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Ijeir pstorg, (ftomtmttian, antr 



Author of "The Midland Railway: its Rise and Progress." 


" Now, lads, you will live to see the day when mail-coaches will go by rail- 
way, and when it will be cheaper for a working man to travel on a railway 
than to walk on foot." GEORGE STEPHENSON. 

" Railways have rendered more services, and have received less gratitude, 
than any other institution in the land." JOHN BRIGHT. 

$Jttnurous Illustrations. 



irs in rUinarg to p?ct fflajestg tfjc uccn. 

[All rights reserve 3. \ 



THIRTY years ago the Author had the impression that 
the rise and progress of our great peaceful and human- 
ising industries should be more interesting and in- 
structive than that which generally fills our books of 
history the blood-stained annals of war. Accordingly, 
though a young writer, he published the first edition 
of "Our Iron Roads"; and the favour with which his 
book was honoured showed that, happily, his impression 
was widely shared. Since then he has been gratified 
by the reception given by the press and the public 
to his work " The Midland Railway : a Narrative 
of Modern Enterprise"; of which, within a week of 
its publication, half a large edition was sold, and of 
which four editions, of 8,000 copies, have nearly been 

On two occasions " Our Iron Roads " has been 
recommended to the Author (not knowing who he 
was) by principal Librarians of the British Museum, 
one of whom subsequently urged him to bring out 
another Edition ; and others have followed until he 
now commits to the press his Seventh Edition the 
2Oth and 2ist Thousand. He ventures to ask for it 


viii PREFACE. 

the goodwill that its predecessors have enjoyed. He 
hopes that its perusal may help to quicken, especially 
in the minds of the young, a deeper interest in the social 
and industrial progress of the people ; and that it may 
also inspire a kindlier appreciation of the endless skill, 
labour, and cost with which our railway service is carried 
forward, not only by the chiefs at the head of the 
administration, but by the hundreds of thousands of 
workmen who intelligently and faithfully fulfil their 
responsibilities for the comfort and safety of the public. 

He has been glad to learn that the Passenger Duty 
on Railways, on which he has freely commented, has 
recently received important modifications at the hands 
of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 




Dr. Johnson's Ideal. "The Coaching Days of Old." The Troubles of PAGB 
Travel. Tramroads. Mr. Outram. Roger North. Iron Tramroad in 
Colebrook Dale. The Peak Forest Line. The Edge Railway. Fish- 
bellied Rails. The Surrey Iron Railway Company. Dr. James Anderson. 
Thomas Gray of Nottingham. Complaints about Canals. Stockton and 
Darlington Line Projected. Wooden Trams and Horses to be Used. 
"The Quakers' Line." Mr. Edward Pease. The Line Opened. Joy and 
Sorrow. The Engine-wright and the Quaker. Colliery Engines. Success 
of Stockton and Darlington Line. Rise of Middlesbrough. Liverpool 
and Manchester Line Projected. First English Railway Prospectus. 
First Great Parliamentary Railway Battle. The Northumbrian Engineer 
before the Parliamentary Committee. Opposition of Engineers to the 
Project. The Bill Rejected. Renewed Efforts. The Bill Carried. 
Anticipated Failure of Railways. Premium for Locomotives. The Com- 
petition. The Rocket. The Sans Pareil. The Liverpool and Manchester 
Line Opened. Success of Line. George Stephenson. Robert Stephensor. 1-32 


Change of Public Feeling towards Railways. Wordsworth's Indigna- 
tion. Alarm of Vested Interests. Colonel Sibthorpe. Opposition of 
Northampton, Oxford, and Eton. Hatred "even unto Death." Prophe- 
cies of Disaster Falsified. Progress of Railway Enterprise. Select Com- 
mittee of House of Commons. Excellent Dividends. Unwelcome Truths. 
Railway Mania. Extraordinary Excitement. Gambling and Suicide. 
"Stags." George Hudson. Remarkable Career. The Railway King. 
Decline and Fall. Deposit of Plans at Board of Trade. November 
30th, 1845. Sharp Practice. Statistics of Railways. Cost of Railway 
Mania. Disastrous Issues. Confidence Returning 33-60 


A New Railway Project. The Prospectus. Advertisement. Deposit 
Money. Flying Levels. The Course of a Line. Opposition to Survey. 
Mr. Gooch. A Clergyman Outwitted. The Breadalbane People." The 
Battle of Saxby Bridge." Experience of Surveyors. Mr. Sharland Snowed 
Up. Deposit of Notices. Fighting for the Act. Theory and Practice 
of Parliamentary Committees. "The Railway Session." "The Minting' 
Age." The Hon. John Talbot and Mr. Charles Austin. Scenes in Rail- 
way Committee Rooms. Amusing Displays of Forensic Genius. The 
Defence and the Attack. Witnesses. Professional Reputations. Sir 
Edmund Beckett. Cheap Amusement. Buying off Opposition. Enor- 


mous Prices for Land. A Curious Bill. Compensation. A Pleasing PAGE 

Exception. Buying an Editor. Mr. Venables, Q.C., on Compensation. 

Decisions of Parliamentary Committees. The Preamble Proved. Cost 

of Parliamentary Contests. Cost of Railways 61-90 


Commencement of a Railway. Turning First Sod. The Ceremony. 
Bedford and Bletchley Line. Difficulties in the Construction of Railways. 
Gradients. Theoretical and Practical Considerations. Undulating and 
Level Lines. The Desborough Bank. Special Precautions. The High 
Peak Railway. The Lickey Incline. Spragging and Skidding. The 
Righi Incline. The Fell Line over Mont Cenis. Working of this Line. 
Curves. The Great Horse-shoe Curve. Commencement of Works. 
Making Cuttings. Making the Running. Angle of Repose. Illustrations. 
Retaining Walls. Ditches and Drains. The Great Enemy of Cuttings. 
The Road-bed. Crest Ditches and Spade Drains. Embankments. The 
Haslingden Cutting. Three Remarkable Cuttings. Vicissitudes. A 
Terrible Storm. Slips. Chemical Combination of Soils. Precautions. 
Covering the Slopes of Cuttings 91-122 


Levelling of the Round Down Cliff. Blasting on the Londonderry and 
Coleraine Railway Embankments. Making an Embankment. The Tip. 
Disappearance of an Embankment. Embankments on Marshes. Chat 
Moss. Embankments Chained with Iron Cables. Hanwell Embankment. 
Intake Embankment. Embankments on Loch Foyle. A Baked Em- 
bankment. Earthworks of Railways. Comparison of Labour of Ancients 
and Moderns. Market Gardens on Railway Banks. Navigators and their 
Characteristics. Cunning of Navvies. Comparison of English and 
Foreign Navvies. Nicknames of Navvies. Courage and Recklessness of 
Navvies. Management of Navvies 123-151 


Tunnels. Shape of Tunnels. Shafts. The Horse-Gin. Timbering. 
Driftways. Air Shafts in Kilsby Tunnel. " Cut and Cover" Tunnels. 
Cost of Tunnels. Vicissitudes of Tunnel Making. Drainage of Tunnels. 
Lining of Tunnels. Making of Tunnels. Box Tunnel. Woodhead 
Tunnel. Kilsby Tunnel. The Deepest Tunnel in England. The Longest 
Tunnel in England. The Metropolitan Railway. A Tunnel Carried 
under a Tunnel. Construction of the Underground Railway. Moorfields 
Chapel Underpinned. Potholes. -Tunnel under the Thames. Tunnel 
under the Severn.-Lost in a Tunnel. Length of Tunnels. The Channel 
Tunnel. Mont Cenis Tunnel. St. Gothard Tunnel. Spruce Creek 
Tunnel. -Shugborough Tunnel 152-181 


Viaducts.-Construction of Viaducts. -Arten Gill Viaduct. -Smardale 
Viaduct. Materials for Construction of Viaducts. Stone and Timber Via- 
ducts. -Alderbottom Viaduct. -Sankey Viaduct. -Tarentine Viaduct - 
Dutton Viaduct -Dryfe Sands Viaduct. -Avon Viaduct. -Dinting Viaduct 


Congleton Viaduct. Foord Viaduct. Ouse Viaduct. Llangollen Via- PAGH 

duct. Skelton Viaduct. Bugsworth Viaduct. Ribblehead Viaduct. 

Dent Head Viaduct. New Holland Ferry. Vicenza and Venice Railway. 

Conewago Viaduct. Trenton Viaduct. Bridges. Skew Bridges. 

Wink well Skew Bridge. Rugby Road Bridge. Maidenhead Bridge. 

Drawbridge over the Arun. Floating Bridge on the Forth. High Level 

Bridge at Newcastle. Royal Border Bridge. Runcorn Bridge. Conway 

Tubular Bridge. Chepstow Bridge. Sinking the Cylinders. Britannia 

Tubular Bridge. Severn Bridge. Saltash Bridge. Charing Cross Bridge. 

Battersea Bridge. Forth Bridge. Elevated Railways. Suspension 

Bridge over Niagara River. Conemaugh Bridge. Level Crossings . . 182-226 


Temporary and Permanent Way. Broad and Narrow Gauge. Break 
of Gauge. " Clever but Theoretical." Broad Gauge Changed to Narrow. 
Formation of the Line. The Road Laid. Rigidness or Elasticity of 
Roads. Ballast. Burnt Clay. Stone Sleepers. Wooden Sleepers. 
Creosoting Sleepers. Longitudinal Sleepers. Chairs. Keys. Rails. 
Controversies. Smoothness of Track. Rails Kept Warm. Fish Plates. 
Cast-iron Rails. Wrought-iron Rails. Steel Rails. "Creeping" of Rails. 
Repair of Permanent Way. Plate-layers. Duties of Plate-layers. 
Enemies of the Permanent Way. Water Troughs on Permanent Way. 
Opening of a Line. Opening of London and Bedford Line. . . . 227-251 


Paddington Terminus. "A Certain Field." Preamble of the Act. 
Station and Staff. Euston. St. Pancras. Lost Luggage Office. Variety 
of Articles Lost. The Hat Shelf. Curiosities of Lost Luggage. The 
Departing Train. Passengers. Intermediate Stations. Woburn. A 
Lonely Station. The Station Master and the Keeper. York Station. 
Names of Stations. Station Notices. A Passing Train. Strange Move- 
ments of Engines. A Group on the Platform. Arrival of Train and 
Departure. Maintaining the British Constitution. Refreshment Rooms. 
Wolverton. S windon. Rugby Junction. Good Digestion. Wagon 
Loading Gauge. Strange Visitors at Stations. Points. Crossings and 
Sidings. A Railway Siding. Toton Sidings. Ingenuity of Inventors. 
Home Signals. Distant Signals. Junction Signals. A Country Signal 
Box. A Station Signal Box. Interlocking Signals. Cannon Street 
Station. Cannon Street Interlocking Signals. Cannon Street Signal 
Platform. Messrs. Saxby and Farmer's Instruments. Seeing through a 
Brick Bridge. Block System. Block System on Metropolitan Line. 
Cost of Block Signal Machines. The Lamp Room. Fogmen. Fog 
Signalling. Fog Signals. Construction of Railway Signals. Railway 
Telegraphy. , 252-299 


Station Masters. Duties of Station Masters Working Single Line 
Traffic. Exceptional Duties. Perplexities. Names of Station Masters. 
Booking Clerks. The Booking Office. Thomas Edmondson. Ticket- 
making Machine. The Dating Press. The Cash Counter. Train Books. 


Audit Office. The Clearing House. Experiences of Booking Clerks. 
Involuntary Travellers. The Parcels Office. All Sorts of Parcels. Work 
of Parcel Clerks. Signalmen. Duties of Signalmen. Guards. Duties of 
Guards. A Polite Guard. Porters. Complaints about Luggage. A 
Valise of Dynamite. Baggage Smashers and Bees. What is Personal 
Luggage? "Checking the Baggage" 300-328 


The Vicar's Alarm. The First Locomotive in the World. Trevethick 
and Jones. The Trial. Improvements in Engines. London and North 
Western, Midland, and American Locomotives. Speed and Momentum of 
Engines and Trains. Life of a Locomotive. Cost of Engine Coal. Loco- 
motive Establishments. The Metropolitan Railway Locomotives. Fitters 
and their Ways. Duties of Drivers and Firemen. Working of Engines. 
Incidents. A Night Journey on the Dover Night Mail. Possible Locomo- 
tives of the Future. Electric Railways. Break-down Train. Railway 
Carriages. The Old Tub and the New Bogie. A Railway Carriage 
Building Works. The Wood Yard, the Shaping Machinery, Carriage 
Wheels. Wringing on the Tires. Furnishing the Carriages. Painting of 
Carriages. Pullmans. Injuries of Carriages by Travellers. Cost of 
Repairs. The Botany of a Railway Carriage Window. Sleeping Cars in 
America." One Good Turn Deserves Another.'* A Sheet Stores . . 329-380 


" Bradshaw." The Editorial Department of a Railway. The Official 
Time-Table. The " Working Time-Table. "The "Appendix" to the 
Working Time-Table. Excursion Time-Table. The Staff of a Railway 
Editor. Charms of Early Railway Travelling. Third-Class Passengers. 
Improvements in Third-Class Travelling. " Third Class by all Trains." 
Numbers of Third-Class Passengers. First-Class Passengers. Workmen's 
Trains. Special Trains. Fox Hunters. New " Twin Day Saloons " of 
London and North Western. Dining Saloon Cars on Midland. Limited 
Pullman Express on London and Brighton. Special Sociability of Certain 
Railroad Travellers. The Royal Train. Odd Ideas of Locomotion. A 
Passenger Travelling as Merchandise. An Exciting Episode. Careless- 
ness of Travellers. Foolishness of Travellers. A New Zealander. An 
Iron-Clad Train on Duty. Railway Travelling in War Time. A Military 
Railway. Private Owners of Railways. Other -Passengers by Railway : 
Horses, Cattle, etc. Legal Definition of a Pig. A Lap Dog. A Tiger. 
Fish Traffic. Milk Traffic. A Goods Station at Night. Coal Traffic . 381-423 


Working of Trains. "Correspondence" of Trains. Punctuality of 
Trains. Mr. S. Laing. Sir D. Gooch. Mr. Allport. Mr. Paterfamilias 
and his Opinions. Snow-storms on Railways. A Young Lady's Experi- 
ence. Other Trains Snowed up. Snow-storm in Scotland. Results of 
Weather on Railway Finance. Cost of a Snow-storm to a Railway. 
Snow Sheds. Railway Accidents. A Paradox: is it true? Safety of 
Railway Travelling. Curative Effects of Railway Accidents. Horse- 
racing on Railways. Brake Trials at Newark. The Trial Trains. The 


Westinghouse Brake. " Mr. Vacuus Smith." Mr. Clayton's Brake. PAGE 
A Ride on an Engine with a Vacuum Brake. Earl de la Warr's Bill. 
Communicators. The Cord System. Results. Running Powers of Rail- 
ways. " Facility Clauses." Interchange of Traffic on Metropolitan Lines. 
Lines jointly Owned or Worked. " Compensation." Curious Cases. 
Taxation of Railways. "The Railway Commission." Alleged Excessive 
Railway Rates. Reply of Companies. Classification of Rates. Special 
Rates. Reasons for Special Rates. Uniform Mileage Rates Impracticable 
and Pernicious 424-467 


Financial Aspects of Railways. Closing of Capital Accounts. Enor- 
mous Demands on Railway Shareholders. The Crucial Question. 
Dividends on English Railways. Capital Authorized. A Profitable Line. 
The State Purchase of Railways. Financial Difficulties. Increasing 
Value of Railways. Captain Tyler's Proposal. Cost of Purchase. The 
Speculator. Stupendous Financial Problems. Logical Results. Political 
Aspects of the Subject. Political Pressure. "Portentous Mischief." 
Mr. Gladstone's Opinion 468-486 


Continental Railways. Belgian Railways. Railways in France. Rail- 
way up Vesuvius. Spanish Railways. Railways in India. American 
Railways 487-494 


Railway Revolutions. Increased Comfort and Convenience of our 
Locomotion. English Locomotion Fifty Years Ago. Wealth-creating 
Power of Railways. New Industries brought into Existence. Improve- 
ments in Country Towns and Country Life. Lowestoft and Harwich. 
Ciewe and Swindon. Railway Companies as Landowners. Increased 
Value of Land in Scotland through Railways. Residential Area of 
London Enlarged by Railways. Diminished Cost of Locomotion. 
Numbers of Passengers who Travel by Railway. Goods and Mineral 
Traffic. Conclusion 49S~5 11 


Shakespeare's Cliff 
Llangollen Viaduct 
Snow Plough 
Chee Vale . 
The Wayside Inn . 
Sections of Rails . 
" Fish-bellied " Rail 



Title Page 

Title Page 



- 5 

Opening of the Stockton and 

Darlington Line . . .II 
The First Railway Passenger 

Carriage . . 14 
The "Novelty" . . . .21 
The " Rocket " . . . .22 
The " Sans Pareil " . .23 

Trent Bridge, Nottingham . . 32 

Lledyr Vale 33 

Barnsley Viaduct . . . .60 
George Stephenson's Birthplace . 61 
A Levelling Party . . .65 
Parliamentary Committee-room . 87 
Viaduct near Mansfield . . 90 
Olive Mount Cutting . . . 91 
Diagram of Earthworks . . 93 
Chiques Rock Curve . . .104 
Horse-shoe Curve . . . 105 
Making a Cutting . . . 107 
Making the Running . . . 109 
Retaining Walls, Haverstock Hill 112 
Birkett Cutting . . . .116 
Baron Wood Cutting . . .117 
Dove Holes Cutting . . .118 
Dove Holes Cutting Cleared .119 
Woodhouse Tower and Cutting . 120 
A Welsh Railway Station . .122 
Viaduct and Tunnel near Pen- 

maenmawr . . . .123 

Abbot's Cliff 124 

Making the Wolverton Embank- 
ment ..... 127 
The "Tip" 129 


Intake Embankment . . .135 
Willersley Cutting : a Winter 

Sketch 151 

"Beware of the Trains !" . . 152 
Interior of a Tunnel . . . 153 
The Horse-gin . . . .153 
Temporary Props in a Tunnel . 154 
Shaft in Kilsby Tunnel. . .156 
Diverting the Fleet Sewer . .165 
The Underground under the Un- 
derground Line . . .168 
St. Gothard Tunnel . . .177 
Spruce Creek Tunnel . . .180 
Shugborough Tunnel . . .181 
Railway Tools . . . .182 
Arten Gill Viaduct in Course of 

Construction . . . .183 
Smardale Viaduct in Course of 

Construction . . . .184 
The Tarentin Viaduct . . .185 
The Viaduct as it was (Midland 
Railway) : Niphany, near 

Skipton 1 86 

The Viaduct as it is (Midland 
Railway) : Niphany, near 

Skipton 1 86 

Dryfe Sands Viaduct . . .188 
Viaduct on the Midland Railway 

near Rugby . . . .189 
Congleton Viaduct . . .190 
Bugsworth Viaducts, near Man- 
chester 191 

Ribblehead Viaduct, Blea Moor. 192 
Dent Head Viaduct . . .193 
New Holland Ferry . . .193 
Vicenza and Venice Viaduct . .194 
Cone wago Viaduct . . ' . 195 
Trenton Viaduct . . . .196 
Diagrams of Skew Bridges (fig. I, 

fig. 2, fig. 3) . . . . 197 




. I9 8 


Winkwell Skew Bridge . 
Rugby Road Bridge . . 
Maidenhead Bridge . . 
Drawbridge over the Arun . 
Floating Railway across the Forth 201 
High-level Bridge at Newcastle . 202 
Royal Border Bridge . . .203 
Runcorn Bridge . . 2 4 
Bridge over the Avon, near Bath. 205 
Britannia Tubular Bridge . . 207 
Elevated Railway, New York . 223 
Conemaugh Bridge . . .225 
Level-crossings . . .226 
Conway Castle and Tubular and 

Suspension Bridges . .227 
Stone Sleepers . . . .235 

Stone Sleepers Laid Diagonally . 236 
Wooden Sleepers. . . .237 

Railway Chair, and Section of 

Chair, Key, and Rail . . 240 
Section of Bridge-shaped Rail . 241 
Sections of Rails . . . .243 

Fish-plates . . . . .243 

Section of Wrought-iron Rail and 

Longitudinal Sleepers . . 244 
Picking up Water from Feed 

Trough ..... 247 

Elstow ...... 248 

Luton ...... 249 

St.Albans ..... 250 

Initial Letter . . . .252 

Woburn Station . . . .259 

York Station . . . .260 

Water Crane . . . .267 

" Points " as they were. . . 268 
Crossing and Siding . . . 268 
Home Signal . . . .274 

Auxiliary or Distant Signal. . 276 
Junction Signals .... 277 

Plan of Cannon Street Station . 282 
Cannon Street Station Signals . 284 
Interior of London Bridge Signal 

box ..... 286 

Fog-signal ..... 296 

Monsal Dale Footbridge and Via 

duct ..... 299 


Malvern Link Station . . . 3 
A Metal Ticket . . -307 

Cash Bowls 39 

Clay Cross Junction . . . 3 2 8 
Initial Letter . . . . 3 2 9 
A London and North Western 

Engine 334 

Midland Express Engine . . 334 
New Midland Bogie Engine . 335 
An American Locomotive . . 336 
Locomotive Station, Welling- 

borough . . . .342 
Break-down Train . . . 360 
A Snatch-block . . . .362 

A Ramp 3 6 3 

A Clip 364 

New Midland Bogie Carriage . 368 
Interior of Pullman Car . . 372 
Pullman Parlour Car . . .373 
Pullman Drawing-room Sleeping 

Car 373 

Monsal Dale . . . .380 
Temporary Over-bridge . .381 
British Iron-clad Train in Egypt . 403 
St. Pancras Goods Station . .419 
Hampton Station. . . . 4 2 3 
Fogman's Hut . . . . 4 2 4 
A Midland Train Snowed up, near 

Dent . . . . .433 
Accident to an Empty Coal Train 437 
Lawley Street Goods Station . 461 
Chesterford Station, Eastern 

Counties Railway . . . 467 
Saltash Viaduct . . . .468 
Chee Vale Tunnels . . . 486 
View of part of the Righi Railway 487 
The Railway up Vesuvius, with a 

Sketch of the Carriage . 488, 489 
Lewistown Narrows . . .491 
Conestoga Bridge, on the Penn- 
sylvania Railroad . . . 494 
Embankment on the London and 
North Western Line near 
Lancaster .... 495 
A "Dead End" . . . .511 



Dr. Johnson's Ideal." The Coaching Days of Old." The Troubles of 
Travel. Tramroads. Mr. Outram. Roger North. Iron Tramroad in 
Colebrook Dala The Peak Forest Line. The Edge Railway. Fish- 
bellied Rails. The Surrey Iron Railway Company. Dr. James Ander- 
son. Thomas Gray of Nottingham. Complaints about Canals. 
Stockton and Darlington Line Projected. Wooden Trams and Horses 
to be Used. "The Quakers' Line." Mr. Edward Pease. The Line 
Opened. Joy and Sorrow. The Engine-wright and the Quaker. 
Colliery Engines. Success of Stockton and Darlington Line. Rise of 
Middlesbrough. Liverpool, and Manchester Line Projected. First 
English Railway Prospectus. First Great Parliamentary Railway 
Battle. The Northumbrian Engineer before the Parliamentary Com- 
mittee. Opposition of Engineers to the Project. The Bill Rejected. 
Renewed Efforts. The Bill Carried. Anticipated Failure of Railways. 
Premium for Locomotives. The Competition. The Rocket. The 
Sans Pareil. The Liverpool and Manchester Line Opened. Success 
of Line. George Stephenson. Robert Stephenson. 

PCTOR JOHNSON has left it on record 
that the most pleasing thing in exist- 
ence is to travel, accompanied by a 
pretty woman, in a mail coach, at the 
rate of six miles an hour; and there 
are some, besides the great lexico- 
grapher, who talk of the delights of 
travelling in "the coaching days of 
old." They tell, in glowing terms, how 
the mail was daily examined from pole 
to boot wheels, axles, linch-pins, springs, and glasses ; - how 
scrupulously each part was cleaned ; how every horse was 

The initial letter represents a tunnel-mouth in Chee Vale, on the Rowsley 
and Manchester line of the Midland Railway. 



groomed as carefully as if it belonged to the stud of a noble- 
man; and how, at eight o'clock at night, coach and mettled 
steeds were ready " on parade," in Lombard Street, to receive 
the bags. 

Perhaps it was a special occasion. The tidings of a military 
victory had been received a national foe had been defeated 
and the mail would convey the news to ten thousand English 
homes. Instead of, as now, being silently flashed in a few 
seconds over the length and breadth of the land, resort was had 
to more ordinary, and yet more striking means. Horses, men, 
and carriages were dressed with laurels and flowers, with oak- 
leaves and ribbons. Coachmen and guards displayed to the 
best advantage around their rotund forms the royal livery ; pas- 
sengers, in a feeling of national exultation, lost their usual 
reserve ; and, when the noise of the lids locked down on the 
mail-bags smote on the ear, the trampling of high-bred horses, 
as they bounded off like leopards, and the thundering of wheels, 
were soon lost amid the shouts of hosts of spectators. In the 
remembrance of such scenes, it is scarcely surprising that some 
regret that they have passed away for ever. We can almost 
join in the song, 

" We miss the cantering team, the winding way, 
The road-side halt, the post-horn's well-known air, 
The inns, the gaping towns, and all the landscape fair." 

There were also various other sources of innocent enjoyment 
in the journeyings of our grandfathers of which we have been 
bereft ; and it must, for instance, have been very agreeable " for 
a lady to be married in her riding habit, and jog off for her 
honeymoon on her pillion, with her arm round her husband's 

Still, the joys even of those days were not without alloy. 
Stories are told of dreary waitings at road sides in the small 
hours of wintry mornings for coaches which, when they arrived, 
were full; of how travellers could not keep awake and dared not 
go to sleep; of roads "infamously bad," which "the whole range 
of language could not sufficiently describe ; " and of the addi- 
tional and exciting perils ever and anon of " a race betwixt two 
stage coaches, in which the lives of thirty or forty distressed or 
helpless individuals were at the mercy of two intoxicated 
brutes." To be perched for perhaps twenty hours, exposed to 


all weathers, on the outside of a coach, trying in vain to find a 
soft seat, sitting now with the face and now with the back to 
the wind, rain, or sun ; to endure long and wretched winter 
nights, when the passenger was half starved with cold and the 
other half with hunger, was a miserable undertaking, and was 
often looked forward to with no small anxiety by many whose 
business required them frequently to travel. Nor were the 
inside passengers much more agreeably accommodated. To be 
closely packed in a little straight-backed vehicle, where the 
cramped limbs could not be in the least extended, nor the 
wearied frame indulged by any change of posture, was felt by 


many to be a distressing experience, while the constantly re- 
curring demands of driver and guard, and the exactions of inn- 
keepers, often destroyed the last traces of the fancied romance 
of stage-coach travelling. In fact, a wet, steaming, dripping 
coach, swaying along through a village, covered with a compact 
hood of umbrellas, and looking for all the world like a huge 
moist green tortoise, was an object sufficiently melancholy for 
any one to contemplate. Even aristocratic dignity could scarcely 
be maintained "when, for instance, the Duke of Marlborough's 
enormous gilt coach broke down in Chancery Lane, when his 
Grace was entering London in triumph;" and in after days 


many travellers shared the experience of Charles Dickens, who, 
when he was a reporter, was " upset in almost every description 
of vehicle known in this country." 

Truth to say, modern wayfarers have little conception of what 
travelling used to be. It killed hundreds of people ; and often 
in winter a man would get so nearly frozen to death that he 
could only be got down from the top of a coach in the bent 
position into which he had stiffened. "The railroad grumblers 
of to-day know nothing of the sufferings of their Spartan 

"You must be making handsomely out with your canals," 
was once remarked to the celebrated Duke of BridgeWater. 
"Oh, yes," rejoined his grace, "they will last my time; but I 
don't like the look of these tramroads there's mischief in 
them." The observation of the duke was, in a sense, prophetic : 
those wooden roads were the foreshadowing of the Railway 
system of the present day. Many conjectures have been offered 
as to the origin of the term " tramroad," but it appears to have 
been taken from the name of Mr. Outram, who was early con- 
nected with their employment ; and they would, doubtless, have 
been called outram-roads, were it not for the well-known custom 
of Englishmen to reduce their words to the most practical 
dimensions. The application of the principle on which their 
value depends, may be traced in the construction of early Italian 
streets, and especially of those of Milan, where a smooth sur- 
face is provided for the passage of wheels, and a rough one on 
which the horses mayvtread with security; but the precise date 
at which they were first used does not appear. It is sufficient 
to observe that more than two hundred years ago, tramroads 
existed in the colliery districts ; and Roger North, in describing 
a visit paid by his brother, Lord Guildford, to Newcastle, 
remarks, that among the curiosities of the region were the 
"way-leaves." "When men," he wrote in 1676, "have pieces of 
ground between the colliery and the river, they sell leave to lead 
coals over the ground, and so dear, that the owner of a rood of 
ground will expect 20 per annum for this leave. The manner 
of the carriage is by laying rails of timber from the colliery 
down to the river, exactly straight and parallel, and bulky carts 
are made with four rowlets fitting these rails, whereby the car- 


riage is so easy, that one horse will draw four or five chaldrons 
of coals, and is of immense benefit to the coal merchants." The 
hard, smooth, and unchanging surface on which the wheels 
passed, was then and is now the characteristic of the tramroad. 

Towards the close of the last century, wooden tramroads 
were extensively employed in mining and coal districts, where 
much heavy material had to be transported ; and they rapidly 
spread in Shropshire, Staffordshire, and the midland counties 

An iron tramroad, or railway, as it may be called, was in use 
at Colebrook Dale a spot celebrated for having the first iron 
bridge in the world about the year 1760 ; for the price of iron 
having fallen, it was determined, in order to keep the furnaces at 
work, to cast plates to be laid on the upper edge of the wooden 
tramroads ; this, it was thought, would diminish friction, and 
prevent abrasion, while the iron could be sold as " pigs " in case 
of a sudden rise of price. These " scantlings of iron " were four 
inches broad, an inch and a quarter in thickness, and five feet 
long, and were cast with holes so that they might easily be 
fastened to the wooden rails beneath. So successful, however, 
was the plan, that the plates remained undisturbed, and rails of 
solid iron were gradually adopted in those districts. An iron 
tramway was formed from the collieries near Derby to that 
town ; a second, called the Peak Forest line, was laid down for 
six miles ; and another was constructed near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, 
which had four miles of double and eight of single rails. In 181 1 
there were in South Wales no fewer than 180 miles completed, 
of which thirty belonged to the Merthyr Tydvil Company. 

Shortly after the experiment at Colebrook Dale cast-iron rails 
with an upright flange were invented, and they seem 
to have been first used at the colliery of the Duke 
of Norfolk, near Sheffield. They were originally 
fixed on cross sleepers of wood, but stone blocks 
were afterwards substituted. The " edge railway " was intro- 
duced at the slate quarries of Lord Penrhyn in Carmarthen- 
shire. The " metals," as they are called, were be- 
tween four and five feet long, their section repre- 
senting an oval, as seen in the diagram. The wheels 
were formed with a grooved tire, so as to run easily 
on the rail ; but it was subsequently found that the groove 


became so deepened by wear as to fit the rail tightly, and thus 
to occasion unnecessary friction. To obviate this difficulty, the 
bearing surface of the rail and the corresponding part of the 
wheel were made flat; and two horses were then able, with 
comparative ease, to draw a train weighing twenty-four tons, 
and they could conduct a traffic which, on a common road, 
would have required four hundred. 

Experience suggested various improvements in the construc- 
tion of the tram-rail. " Fish-bellied " rails, as they were denom- 

inated, were made three or 

* ur ^ eet in k"^* 1 * with t k e * r 

greatest strength in the middle; 
they were secured one to another in the " chair," or iron box, 
and this was so fixed to the sleeper that the whole was safe. 

In 1 80 1 the "Surrey Iron Railway Company" obtained an 
Act for the construction of a tramway for general merchan- 
dise from Wandsworth to Croydon, and the advantages it pre- 
sented were subjected to a practical test. The draught of a 
horse on a good road is about fifteen hundredweight, and strong 
horses can, under ordinary circumstances, draw two thousand 
pounds. Twelve wagons were on this occasion loaded with 
stones till each weighed about three tons, and a horse then drew 
them with apparent ease a distance of six miles in an hour and 
three quarters. At each stoppage, other wagons were added to 
the train, with which the horse resumed his journey, with appa- 
rently undiminished power ; and the attending workmen, to the 
number of about fifty, also mounted the wagons, without any 
apparent effect on the horse. The load at the end of the journey 
was found to weigh more than fifty-five tons. 

" I found delight," said Sir Richard Phillips, " in witnessing, 
at Wandsworth, the economy of horse-labour on the iron rail- 
way. Yet a heavy sigh escaped me, as I thought of the incon- 
ceivable millions of money which had been spent about Malta ; 
four or five of which might have been the means of extending 
double lines of iron railway from London to Edinburgh, Glas- 
glow, Holyhead, Milford, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Dover, and 

In connection with the history of tramroads, the name of Dr. 
James Anderson is well deserving of notice. In 1800 he pub- 
lished a book, entitled " Recreations in Agriculture," in which 


he proposed the adoption of lines of railway along the sides of 
turnpike roads, both for heavy loads at slow rates, and for 
accelerated motion. Dr. Anderson proposed that they should be 
tried between the metropolis and the docks then projected at 
the Isle of Dogs, and also along the western road to Hounslow ; 
after which, if successful, he recommended that they should be 
more fully applied on the turnpike from London to Bath. He 
estimated that heavily-laden wagons could be drawn with one- 
tenth of the force and cost of the common modes of traffic ; and 
he recommended that the whole should be "kept open and 
patent to all alike who shall choose to employ them, as the 
king's highway, under such regulations as it shall be found 
necessary.'* He subsequently described the method in which 
these railways might be constructed ; their width, height, 
gradients, curves, bridges, and even "short tunnels." "Dr 
Anderson's description might pass for that of a modern rail- 

A thoughtful man in the north of England visited one of these 
tramways which connected the mouth of a colliery with a wharf 
at which the coals were shipped ; and, after watching the passing 
trains for some time, he turned to the engineer of the line, and 
said, " Why are not these tramroads laid down all over England, 
so as to supersede our common roads, and steam-engines em- 
ployed to convey goods and passengers along them, so as to 
supersede horse-power ? " The engineer looked at the questioner 
and replied, "Just propose you that to the nation, sir, and see 
what you will get by it ! Why, sir, you will be worried to death 
for your pains." The conversation on this topic terminated ; but 
Thomas Gray, of Nottingham, did not allow the matter to escape 
him. Tramroads, locomotive steam-engines, and the superseding 
of horse-power, filled his mind. " It was his thought by day ; 
it was his dream by night. He talked of it till his friends voted 
him an intolerable bore. He wrote of it till the reviewers deemed 
him mad." 

Meanwhile, the growing demands of commerce had led to 
general discontent with the means of intercommunication through 
the country. The tramroads were detached and isolated under- 
takings ; and the proprietors of canals, thinking themselves secure 
in their possession of a monopoly, were extravagant in their 
charges as well as inefficient in their administration. The dis- 


satisfaction that resulted was specially strong in the coal dis- 
tricts of the north, where the burdens to be carried were large 
and heavy. One of the richest coalfields in the country lay to 
the west and north-west of Darlington, a long way from the sea ; 
and it is not surprising that here the great practical problem of 
transport eventually found its solution. The story of that time 
has been admirably told by Dr. Smiles, in his "Lives of the 
Stephensons." How it was proposed to overcome the local diffi- 
culties by the construction of a canal, but nothing was done ; how 
Stockton waited twenty years for Darlington, and -Darlington 
for Stockton ; how, at length, the Stocktonians, who adopted as 
the motto of their company, " Meliora speramus," held a public 
meeting to discuss the " better things " to come, and appointed 
a committee to inquire into the advantages of forming a railway 
or canal ; how the Darlington committee went to sleep, woke 
up, made a report, but could not decide ; and how imperial wars 
arose and general apathy ensued: all this and much more is 
narrated by Dr. Smiles with the fidelity of the historian and the 
vividness of the painter. 

In estimating the possible results of their work, if a railway 
were made, the friends of the enterprise were modest indeed. 
The line itself was to be a wooden tramway, over which coal 
trucks and other vehicles were to be drawn either by horses or 
by ropes attached to stationary engines, and it was estimated 
that " one horse of moderate power could easily draw downwards 
on the railway, between Darlington and Stockton, about ten 
tons, and upwards about four tons of loading, exclusive of the 
empty wagons." By the advice of George Stephenson, who was 
appointed engineer and surveyor to the line, iron rails were sub- 
stituted for wood ; and, as he gradually gained the confidence 
of the directors, he urged upon them, at length successfully, to 
employ a locomotive engine, such as that which he had already 
constructed and was working successfully at Killingworth col- 
liery. The export trade in coal it was calculated, " might be 
taken, perhaps at 10,000 tons a year," u about a cargo a week. 
No allusion in any of the reports was made to the carriage of 
passengers. At length, towards the end of 1816, a company 
was formed for constructing the railway, and the requisite 
capital was raised, though not so much by faith in the under- 
taking as by faith in the character of its friend and advocate, 


Edward Pease. The leading men of the district ridiculed or 
opposed the idea ; and even the merchants of Stockton, who 
had most to gain in the enterprise, were so lukewarm in its 
support that Mr. Pease was not able, with all his energy, to 
dispose in the whole town of twenty shares ! That he succeeded 
in the end was through the help of his immediate personal friends. 
"The two principal Quaker families next to his own, the Back- 
houses and the Richardsons, gave their liberal support to Edward 
Pease, having unbounded faith in his wisdom ; and it was with 
their help, and that of other members of the Society of Friends, 
that he was finally enabled to establish the company and obtain 
an Act of Parliament for the construction of the Stockton-Dar- 
lington railway." No wonder that the people of the district gave 
the undertaking a name it still retains, " the Quakers' line." 

In looking back, many years afterwards, on the origin of this 
railway, Mr. Henry Pease observed that it was remarkable that 
the world should have had to be many thousands of years old 
"before it was thoroughly known to what extent two simple 
parallel bars, laid at a given distance, would facilitate the inter- 
course of mankind." It was not that the principle was new, but 
it was to a certain extent developed by the early pioneers of 
railways. At that time, also, the power of the locomotive was 
little known. Its opponents said, " It is folly : you will not get 
your wagons to travel on the railroad," and the answer they 
received was, "On our two parallel bars our horse shall carry 
eight tons at twice the speed that your horse can carry one." 
" I am sorry to find," said Lord Eldon, " the intelligent people 
of the north country gone mad on the subject of railways." 
Another authority declared : " It is all very well to spend money ; 
it will do some good, but I will eat all the coals that your rail- 
road will carry." " He did not live," said Mr. Henry Pease, 
"until the year 1874, when 127,000,000 of tons of coal were 
carried by railway, and I hope that he had many good dinners 
on much more digestible material. You will not wonder that 
the farmers were in array against the railway system, for their 
landlords said to them, ' You will be ruined, as there will be no 
demand for horses.' But they were not men of sufficient per- 
ception (and there are probably very few now who can look 
forward fifty years) to look forward to 1874, when a Committee 
of the House of Commons had to sit to consider what should 


be done to overcome the dearth of English horses. Whether 
those gentlemen have yet found out a law by which they can 
contravene the law of supply and demand, I do not know, as 
they have not yet been good enough to inform us. There was 
also the absence of the cash. Persons said, ' This is a very 
foolish scheme ; I will not put my money into it.' One year 
the bill was thrown out of Parliament, and the second year it 
could not have gone to Parliament if one of the promoters had 
not said at the last moment, ' I would rather risk 10,000 more 
than this bill should not be lodged in the House of Commons.' " 

Such were the remarks of Mr. Henry Pease at the Jubilee 
Celebration of the Stockton and Darlington line. On that 
occasion Mr. Moon said : I was present twenty-five years ago in 
this town, when Mr. Joseph Pease pointed out to me the tree 
from which George Stephenson took his first survey for the Stock- 
ton and Darlington line a tree which I hope the inhabitants will 
take care to preserve. He told me, in addition, that the engineer 
only charged for his survey the modest sum of 115, a sum 
which, I need not say, is very different from what we railway 
directors know it takes to complete a survey of a railway at the 
present day." 

The Stockton and Darlington scheme had three times to 
present itself before it received the sanction of Parliament. The 
application of 1818 was defeated by the Duke of Cleveland, 
because the line threatened to interfere with one of his fox- 
covers. Certain road trustees, also, spread the report abroad 
that the mortgagees of the tolls would suffer ; and to meet this 
objection, Edward Pease had to disarm opposition by a public 
notice that the company's solicitors were ready to purchase these 
securities at the price originally paid for them. 

In 1821, however, the Bill passed ; and on Tuesday, the 2;th 
of September, 1825, the line was opened. "The scene on the 
morning of that day," said Mr. Pease, fifty years afterwards, 
" sets description at defiance." Many who were to take part 
in the event did not the night before sleep a wink, and soon 
after midnight were astir. The universal cheers, the happy faces 
of many, the vacant stare of astonishment of others, and the 
alarm depicted on the countenances of some, gave variety to the 
picture." At the appointed hour the procession went forward. 
The train moved off at the rate of from ten to twelve miles an 


hour, with a weight of eighty tons, with one engine " No. i " 
driven by George Stephenson himself; after it six wagons, 
loaded with coals and flour ; then a covered coach, containing 
directors and proprietors ; next twenty-one coal wagons, fitted 
up for passengers, with which they were crammed ; and lastly, 
six more wagons loaded with coals. 

" Off started the procession, with the horseman at its head. 
A great concourse of people stood along the line. Many of 
them tried to accompany it by running, and some gentlemen 
on horseback galloped across the fields to keep up with the 
engine. The railway descending with a gentle incline towards 


Darlington, the rate of speed was consequently variable. At 
a favourable part of the road, Stephenson determined to try the 
speed of the engine, and he called upon the horseman with the 
flag to get out of the way," and Stephenson put on the speed 
to twelve miles, and then to fifteen miles an hour, and the 
runners on foot, the gentlemen on horseback, and the horseman 
with the flag, were soon left far behind. "When the train 
reached Darlington, it was found that four hundred and fifty 
passengers occupied the wagons, and that the load of men, coals, 
and merchandise amounted to about ninety tons." 

On that memorable day "a dark shadow fell on the home 


of Edward Pease. At the very moment when the old Quaker 
was counting upon enjoying to the full a triumph which would 
recompense him for countless days of labour and nights of 
anxiety, the Angel of Death entered his dwelling, and the day 
which had promised to be one of triumphant joy, was, in the 
mysterious dispensations of Providence, converted into a day 
of desolation and anguish. He was bereaved of his best-loved 
son. If the ringing cheers of the immense crowd which hailed 
the arrival of ' No. I ' and her lengthy train from Brusselton 
reached as far as the well-known house in Northgate, they fell 
upon the ears of one to whom they seemed but empty sounds 
compared with the terrible reality of death. For there, in an 
inner chamber, his son Isaac, who had lived by his father's side 
for two-and-twenty years, lay dead. He had always been a 
delicate boy, and the fond heart of the old man had gone out 
towards the weakly member of his numerous household. . . . 
The day which brought to Edward Pease the crowning triumph 
of his active life, also bore with it the greatest grief that ever 
humbled him in anguish before the throne of his Maker. Thus 
it was that while crowds were shouting and bands were play- 
ing and the new era was being born, he who had done more 
than any one to bring about the triumph of that day, was in his 
house, alone, crushed by the stroke of bereavement." 

The part taken in that opening ceremony by the locomotive 
" No. I " was interesting ; but it was the beginning of more 
important events. The engine cost only ^"500 ; it was the 
pioneer of multitudes far more costly and powerful. But we 
must here retrace our steps a few years, and recount some 
incidents that had already occurred. One day, in the spring 
of 1821, George Stephenson, the Northumberland engine-wright, 
had called upon the wealthy Quaker and manufacturer of 
Darlington. " Burly men they were both ; strong in mind, too, 
as in body ; and one may fancy how they stood, face to face, 
and eye to eye, to read each other's character." As was the 
alliance of Bolton with Watt, so was that of Stephenson with 
Pease. Pease found the railway, and Stephenson the locomotive. 
Some of the main facts with regard to locomotives had already 
been determined. In certain districts were small engines, which, 
" with much clanging and rattling, puffing and smoking, with 
both a chimney and a steam vent, drew along, at the sufficient 


pac-2 of two or three miles an hour, a dozen or more small iron 
wagons loaded with coal. A man would walk by the side to 
open gates, remove impediments, or assist at a difficulty. The 
colliers themselves would sometimes get into the empty wagons, 
as a tired carter will get into his empty dung cart, or sit on the 
shaft." Stationary engines had come to a high degree of perfec- 
tion, but the " tramway " of those days consisted of light bars 
of iron, stretching from block to block, of wood or stone, which 
had worn for themselves sockets in the soft ground. But when 
Ihe Stockton and Darlington was projected, there was no inten- 
tion of employing the locomotive for the work of transport. 
In the preamble of the first Act, it was stated that the proposed 
line would " be of great public utility, by facilitating the con- 
veyance of coal, iron, lime, corn, and other commodities " ; and 
power was taken to provide " for the making and maintaining 
of the tramroads, and for the passage upon them of wagons 
and other carriages, with men and horses, or otherwise " ; but, 
though the margin "otherwise" was wide, it was not expected 
that the locomotive would fill it. Mr. Pease afterwards said : 
" I was so satisfied that a horse upon an iron road would draw 
ten tons for one ton on a common road, that I felt sure that 
before long the railway would become the king's highway." 
George Stephenson, moreover, in his memorable interview, in- 
duced Edward Pease to visit Killingworth ; he there saw for 
himself what a locomotive could do, and he consented to try 
to obtain power to work the railway by means of locomotives, 
and also to employ them for the haulage of passengers as well 
as of goods. 

The results of the opening of the Stockton and Darlington 
line were in many respects surprising. Though the conveyance 
of passengers had formed no part of the original scheme, yet on 
the first day many hundreds of persons rode from Darlington to 
Stockton and back, and passengers soon insisted upon being 
taken regularly. Hence it became necessary to provide car- 
riages adapted to their requirements. It was not, however, till 
October, 1825, that the company began to run a coach of their 
own. They announced that " the company's coach, called the 
P^xperiment," would run from Darlington to Stockton and back, 
except Sunday, making one journey each way each day, and 
occupying two hours in its completion Each passenger was 


allowed to take " a package of not exceeding 14 Ibs." The fare 
was is. 

The great work of the new railway was in the conveyance of 
minerals and goods. A single engine could draw after it, at the 
rate of five miles an hour, a train weighing ninety-two tons. 
The rate, too, per ton for the carriage of merchandise was re- 
duced from 5^. to the one-fifth of a penny per mile ; the price 
of the carriage of minerals declined from *]d. to \\d. per ton per 
mile; coals at Darlington fell from iSs. to 8s. 6d. per ton ; and, 
as one consequence, a much larger tonnage passed along the 
railway than had been anticipated. " An export trade," said a 
writer of the time, " is now certain, for an order has been already 
contracted for for 100,000 tons of coals annually for five years 
by one house alone in London, the produce of which alone to 


the company will more than pay 4 per cent, on their whole ex- 
penditure. The shares are at 40 premium each; plenty of 
would-be purchasers, but no sellers." 

Meanwhile the administration of the line and the line itself 
had to be improved. Additional passing places had to be pro- 
vided, and the road had to be doubled. Stronger engines were 
made ; and when the engine-men put on the power of the steam 
too rapidly, they had to be taught better manners. " There 
were no buffers on the trains then, the wagons got knocked to- 
gether most cruelly, and the coals were thrown out of them to 
the great annoyance of the coalowners, who could not deliver 
them as put into the wagons." 

The Corporation of the borough of Stockton welcomed the 
railway to their port, but they acted in a shortsighted manner 
as regarded the accommodation of the traffic which it brought. 


The Stockton and Darlington Company were accordingly com- 
pelled to provide for themselves elsewhere. They purchased 
500 acres of land a few miles below Stockton, on the mud- 
banks of the river, where one solitary farmhouse had stood 
among the green fields, and here they erected staiths and other 
conveniences for the loading of coal. And here, as if by magic, 
Middlesbrough arose, and that farmhouse became the centre of 
a town of more than 50,000 inhabitants. 

The success at Darlington of the initial movement in railway 
enterprise could not be without effect elsewhere ; and in various 
directions hopes arose that relief might be obtained from the 
inefficiency and the exactions of canal proprietors. For when 
an application was made for a reduction of charge, and an in- 
crease of accommodation, a decided negative was returned, and 
a hauteur was manifested by the canal proprietors, which natu- 
rally gave great offence. But pride went before a fall. A 
declaration was signed by a hundred and fifty leading men of 
Liverpool, that new means of communication were indispens- 
able ; and measures were adopted which eventually led to the 
establishment of means of communication between that town 
and Manchester incomparably superior in every respect to those 
that had previously existed. 

The first English railway prospectus ever issued was that of 
the Liverpool and Manchester company. It was drawn up by 
Mr. Henry Booth, was signed by the chairman, Charles Law- 
rence, and was dated Oct. 29th, 1824. It set forth that " railways 
hold out to the public not only a cheaper but far more expedi- 
tious mode of conveyance than any yet established "; and it 
stated that "in the present state of trade and of commercial 
enterprise despatch is no less essential than economy. Mer- 
chandise is frequently brought across the Atlantic from New 
York to Liverpool in twenty-one days ; while, owing to the 
various causes of delay above enumerated, goods have in some 
instances been longer on their passage from Liverpool to Man^ 
Chester. But this reproach must not be perpetual. The ad- 
vancement in mechanical science renders it unnecessary ; the 
good sense of the community makes it impossible. Let it not, 
however, be imagined that were England to be tardy other 
countries would pause in the march of improvement." Among 
the advantages that would be secured by the new system, the 


prospectus said : " Increased facilities for the general operations 
of commerce, arising out of that punctuality and despatch which 
will attend the transit of merchandise between Liverpool and 
Manchester, as well as an immense pecuniary saving to the 
trading community. But the inhabitants at large of these 
populous towns will reap their full share of direct and imme- 
diate benefit. Coal will be brought to market in greater plenty 
at reduced price ; and farming produce of various kinds will find 
its way from greater distances and at more reasonable rates. 
To the landholders also, in the vicinity of the line, the railroad 
offers important advantages in extensive markets for their 
mineral and agricultural produce, as well as in a facility of ob- 
taining lime and manure at a cheap rate in return. Moreover, 
as a cheap and expeditious means of conveyance for travellers, 
the railway holds out the fair prospect of a public accommoda- 
tion the magnitude and importance of which cannot be imme- 
diately ascertained." This prospectus may be pondered as a 
great historical document. 

The first great parliamentary battle for a railway was fought 
over the proposal to construct the line between Liverpool and 
Manchester. The Committee of the House of Commons, to 
whom the Bill was referred, met for the first time on Monday, 
March 2ist, 1825. The chair was occupied by General Gas- 
coigne, then member for Liverpool. At the present day no 
member for a locality affected by a Railway Bill is allowed to be 
a member of the Committee by whom it is to be considered, 
though he may give such advice and assistance as his local 
knowledge and position may render useful. Manchester was not 
then represented on the Committee, nor even in the House. 
The Company appeared by counsel, the chief of whom were 
Serjeant Spankie and Mr. Adam ; while arrayed against the 
Bill was a phalanx of canal-owners, road-trustees, and landed 
proprietors through whose property the intended line was to pass. 
The legal talent engaged on their side appeared overwhelming. 

Before that august array George Stephenson, a self-taught 
mechanic, appeared to prove by arguments and facts, stated 
with a Northumbrian dialect and "burr" so decided as to make 
him scarcely intelligible to southerners, that a certain work was 
possible and desirable which public opinion and the most dis- 
tinguished engineers of the day had declared to be impracticable 


and absurd, "Clear though the subject was to himself, and 
familiar as he was with the powers of the locomotive," sixteen of 
which he had built, " it was no easy task for him to bring home 
his convictions, or even to convey his meaning, to the less 
informed minds of his hearers, in the face of the sneers, inter- 
ruptions, and ridicule of the opponents of the measure, and even 
of the Committee, some of whom shook their heads and whis- 
pered doubts as to his sanity." 

"Have you any doubt," he was asked, "that a locomotive 
engine could be made to take the weight of forty tons, at the 
rate of six miles an hour, with perfect safety ? " " An engine," 
he replied, " may go six miles an hour with forty tons ; that is, 
including the weight of the carriages." " Have you any doubt 
that the power of the engine might be so increased as to take 
that weight at any speed between six and twelve miles an hour ?" 
" I think the power of the engine may be increased to take 
that weight." "To what extent do you conceive the power of 
the engine could be increased to take that weight of goods?" 
" I can scarcely state that to you : the power of the engine may 
be increased very greatly." " As much as double ? " " I think 
it might." "If you had such an engine, in your opinion could it 
be made to go with perfect safety twelve miles an hour, with 
relation to the bursting of the boiler ? " " Yes, I think it might." 
"At the rate you go at Killingworth, are the engines easily 
managed, easily stopped ? " " Very easily." " Is their pace 
easily slackened ? " " Yes." " Easily started again > " " Yes." 
"In short, they are easily manageable?" "They are." "Do 
you think they could be made perfectly manageable to go at 
the rate of eight miles an hour ? " " Yes, I conceive they might 
at eight miles an hour." 

But in the speech with which he summed up the evidence 
given, Mr. Alderson declared : " I say there is no evidence upon 
which the Committee can safely rely, that upon an average, more 
than three and a half or four and a half miles an hour can be 
done. Consider the nature of the engine : it consists in part of 
a large iron boiler, and the elastic force of steam is the moving 
force, and that depends upon the quantity of heat ; the water is 
enclosed in a boiler of iron, a most rapid conductor of heat, and 
which must move in storms of snow, in storms of rain, and 
during the times of frost. At all those times it will be extremely 



difficult to keep up the elastic force of the steam : I do not say 
it is impossible, but extremely difficult." 

With regard to Chat Moss, which the proposed line had to 
cross, Mr. Harrison declared that " it rises in height from the 
rain swelling it like a sponge, and sinks again in dry weather ; 
and if a boring instrument is put into it, it sinks immediately 
by its own weight. The making of an embankment out 
of this pulpy wet moss is no very easy task. Who but Mr. 
Stephenson would have thought of entering into Chat Moss, 
carrying it out almost like wet dung ? It is ignorance almost 
inconceivable. It is perfect madness.'* "No engineer in his 
senses," said Mr. Francis Giles, C.E., " would go through Chat 
Moss if he wanted to make a railroad from Liverpool to Man- 
chester. In my judgment," he added, with amusing self-contra- 
dictoriness of style, " a railroad certainly cannot be safely made 
over Chat Moss without going to the bottom of the Moss." 

The Committee sat for thirty-eight days. On the 3ist of 
May, after thirty-seven witnesses, and an indefinite number of 
speeches, had been heard against the Bill, the preamble was 
declared to have been proved by a vote of thirty-seven to thirty- 
six. The contest was continued on the clauses. On the 1st of 
June, the thirty-eighth day of the Committee's sitting, the room 
was cleared, and counsel, agents, and parties were then sum- 
moned to be informed that the proposal that the Company 
should have power to make a railway had been " put and nega- 

A first failure was not, however, conclusive. Steps were at 
once taken with a view to a renewed application to Parliament, 
and Messrs. John and George Rennie were engaged as engineers, 
with instructions to make a new survey, it being thought that 
their recognised reputation as engineers would strengthen the 
case. The promoters also determined to adopt a more southern 
route, although it involved a tunnel, the Olive Mount rock cut- 
ting, and other works, which made it necessary that the capital 
should be increased from 400,000 to 510,000. 

The third reading of the Bill was carried in the Commons 
by a majority of 88 to 41. The cost of obtaining the Act was 
27,000. Mr. George Stephenson was now appointed principal 
engineer, with a salary of 1,000 a year. 

When the works of the new line were at length approaching 


completion, it was necessary that a decision should be made as 
to the motive agency to be employed. Horse-power was now 
regarded as inadequate, and the choice lay between locomotive 
and stationary engines. If the latter had been selected, a rope 
would have been carried along the line, between the rails, and 
would, at certain intervals, have been coiled round large drums 
or cylinders, w'orked by fixed steam engines. To this rope 
the wagons containing passengers or goods would have been 
attached, and been drawn from station to station. 

In the spring of 1829, the directors of the Company instructed 
Messrs. Stephenson, Locke, Walker, and Rastrick to collect 
information from the managers of the various railways of the 
country as to the comparative merits of locomotive and fixed 
engines ; and those gentlemen visited the railways in the north 
of England, made most careful inquiries as to the methods 
adopted upon them, and gave the results in separate reports. 
These, on the whole, were in favour of stationary engines ; but 
it was admitted that improvements were being effected in the 
construction of locomotives which made it probable that their 
efficiency would be materially increased. It was thought that, 
in the stationary system, accidents would be less frequent ; but 
that when they occurred, they would be more injurious, as they 
would extend to the whole line ; whereas in the locomotive 
system they would be confined to the engine that was disabled, 
and to its train. In the stationary system perfect uniformity 
from end to end must be preserved ; in the locomotive system, 
one engine, with its train, by passing to the sidings, might be 
detained without inconvenience to others. Eventually it was 
decided that locomotive engines should be employed upon the 
line generally, but that two fixed engines should be placed at 
Rainhill and Sutton, to draw the locomotive engines, as well as 
the goods and carriages, up the inclines at these places. Hitherto 
the transport of passengers had not formed any special feature 
in these arrangements : it was now suggested that locomotives 
might possibly be so constructed as to convey passengers at a 
speed equal to that attained by coaches. Accordingly, in order 
to attract the attention of men of science to the subject, a pre- 
mium of 500 was publicly offered for the best locomotive that 
could, under certain stipulations, be constructed ; and though 
that amount was comparatively insignificant, it was obvious that 


on the successful engineer would devolve the construction of the 
entire " stud " of locomotives for the new line. The company 
required of the competing engines, that they should consume 
their own smoke ; that, if they weighed six tons each, they 
should be capable of drawing a train of twenty tons weight, 
including the tender, at a speed of ten miles an hour, on a level 
railway ; that each should have two safety-valves, one beyond 
the control of the engine-driver ; and that their height, of the 
engine including the chimney, should not exceed fifteen feet. It 
was also announced that preference would be given to an engine 
of less weight, if it performed an equal amount of work ; that 
the company was to be at liberty to test the machinery ; and 
that the price of the engine of the successful competitor was 
not to exceed 550. 

Now that the results of railway enterprise are before the 
world, it is curious to observe how completely many of them 
were unforeseen. One distinguished writer, who resided in a 
coal country, and under whose windows locomotives had been 
working for years, has left his disclaimer on record in a published 
work. " It is far from my wish," said he, " to promulgate to the 
world that the ridiculous expectations, or rather professions, of 
the enthusiastic speculatist will be realized, and that we shall see 
engines travelling at the rate of twelve, sixteen, eighteen, and 
twenty miles an hour. Nothing can do more harm towards 
their general adoption and improvement than the promulgation 
of such nonsense " ! 

" As to those persons," said the Quarterly Review, " who 
speculate on making railways generally throughout the kingdom, 
and superseding all the canals, all the wagons, mails, and stage- 
coaches, post-chaises, and, in short, every other mode of con- 
veyance, by land and by water, we deem them and their 
visionary schemes unworthy of notice. The gross exaggerations 
of the powers of the locomotive steam-engine (or, to speak in 
plain English, the steam-carriage), may delude for a time, but 
must end in the mortification of those concerned. We should 
as soon expect the people to suffer themselves to be fired off 
upon one of Congreve's ricochet rockets, as trust themselves to 
the mercy of such a machine, going at such a rate." 

The merits of the competing engines for the Liverpool and 
Manchester Railway were determined by the directors, assisted 




by Messrs. Rastrick, Kennedy, and Nicholas Wood. On the 
day appointed, the Roc- 
ket, constructed by Mr. 
George Stephenson ; the 
Novelty, by Messrs. 
Braithwaite & Ericson; 
and the Sans Pareil, by 
Mr. T. Hack worth, en- 
tered the lists, on a piece 
of railroad which had 
been selected between 
Liverpool and Man- 
chester. In consequence of this space being little more than 
a mile and a half long, each engine had to travel the whole 
distance backwards and forwards ten times, making a journey 
of thirty miles. In order that the performances of each might 
be accurately tested, a judge was stationed at each end of the 
real running course, who noticed the exact time at which the 
engines passed ; the additional ground at each end being allowed 
to them for getting up their speed. When the Sans Pareil was 
examined, it was found not to have been constructed in precise 
accordance with the stipulations of the company, and therefore 
was, in strictness, disqualified ; but it was resolved that a trial 
should be made, and that, if it displayed marked superiority, it 
should be recommended to the favourable consideration of the 
directors. On its eighth trip, however, the pump that supplied 
the water failed, and the accident terminated the experiment. 
The Novelty succeeded only in passing twice between the 
stations, the joints of the boiler then gave way. The Rocket 
having been supplied with water, was weighed, and the load of 
seventeen tons was then attached. This engine twice performed 
the distance of thirty miles ; the first time in about two hours 
and a quarter, and the second in about two hours and seven 
minutes. Its greatest speed was at the rate of thirty miles an 
hour, and the average about fourteen. The marked superiority 
exhibited by the Rocket was owing to the admirable contrivance 
of the steam blast, and the use of a tubular boiler, pierced with 
twenty-five copper tubes, through which the heated air passed 
on its way to the chimney, the tubes being surrounded by the 
water of the boiler, an arrangement by which a very, large 



surface was brought in contact with the fire, and a proportionate 
amount of steam generated. This engine, also, consumed less 
coal than the others, in the proportion of eleven to twenty-eight. 
The boiler consisted of a cylinder, six feet in length, having flat 
ends ; the chimney issued from one extremity, and to the other 
the fire-place was attached, which, externally, had the appear- 
ance of a square box. 

The opinion has been confidently expressed to the writer, that 
after all the Sans Pareil was as good an engine as the Rocket. 
The accident that led to its withdrawment from the competition 
was trifling, and could now-a-days have been repaired in two 
minutes. "But it frightened the driver, and he gave in. It 
was a wonderful little engine," remarked our informant, "and for 


years did a deal of work. After the competition it was bought 
by the Bolton and Kenyon Junction Railway people ; and it 
ran from Bolton by Kenyon Junction to Liverpool and back 
twice a day. When the traffic increased the runnings had to be 
rearranged, and it did not come farther than the junction, but 
ran the ten miles to and from Bolton from seven o'clock in the 
morning till about nine at night 120 miles a day for years. 
The Sans Pareil was only about five tons weight ; it carried 
a tub of rainwater for the boiler, and three or four barrow- 
loads of coke for the furnace. The boiler had one tube, a 
return tube. The fireman rode on the foot-plate, but the driver 
stood at the front end of his engine on the buffer-plank, and he 


had a seat on one side boarded in. But he was out in the open 
during rain, hail, or sunshine ; and this arrangement lasted as 
long as the engine lasted." 

Mr. Stephenson, having thus been the successful competitor, 
was appointed to build the engines of the railway, and from 
that period to his death he conducted the engineering depart- 
ment of the company. 

The construction of the works of the Liverpool and Man- 
chester Railway required immense and unremitting labour. 
Besides the embankment over Chat Moss, to which we shall 
have again to refer, there was the building of viaducts, the 
formation of cuttings and embankments, the erection of sixty- 
three bridges, and the construction of a tunnel near Liverpool 


besides the laying down of the permanent way, the erection of 
stations and warehouses, and the preparation of the engines, 
carriages, and wagons. The cost was as follows : 


. . . . 47,783 


Cuttings and Embankments 

Chat Moss 

Tunnel . 

Land .... 

Fencing .... 

Bridges ........ 

Formation of Road ... . 

Laying of Blocks and Sleepers 

Rails (^12 ios; per ton) . 

Surveying, Law, Parliamentary, and Incidental 




The opening of the line took place on the i5th of September, 
1830, when the Duke of Wellington, Prime Minister, Mr. Peel, 
Home Secretary, Mr. Huskisson, and a number of other dis- 
tinguished persons, were to pass in the first train with the 
directors. A gay cortege of thirty-three carriages, accompanied 
by bands of music, started from Liverpool, amidst the acclama- 
tions of a countless multitude of observers, and with all the 
splendour of an ancient pageant. But soon the enjoyment of 
the scene was marred. While the engines were stopping to 
take in water at Parkside, Mr. Huskisson, with some other 
gentlemen, strolled along the line. As they were returning to 
their seats, another train of carriages came up. All ran for 
shelter; but, unhappily, Mr. Huskisson hurried to the side of 
the train, and, opening the door, attempted to enter ; the door 
swung back at the moment he fell to the ground, and was in 
an instant overthrown and crushed beneath the wheels of the 
advancing carriage. His thigh was fractured and mangled, and 
his own first expression, " I have met my death," proved too 
true, for he died that evening in the neighbouring parsonage of 
Eccles. The train passed on to Manchester without further 
accident ; but the contemplated festivities were forgotten amidst 
the gloom occasioned by this tragedy. 

Referring to the events of that memorable day, Lord 
Brougham said : " When I saw the difficulties of space, as it 
were, overcome ; when I beheld a kind of miracle exhibited 
before my astonished eyes ; when I surveyed masses pierced 
through, on which it was before hardly possible for man or beast 
to plant the sole of the foot, now covered with a road, and 
bearing heavy wagons, laden not only with innumerable pas- 
sengers, but with merchandise of the largest bulk and heaviest 
weight ; when I saw valleys made practicable by the bridges of 
ample height and length which spanned them ; saw the steam 
railway traversing the surface of the water, at a distance of 
sixty or seventy feet perpendicular height ; saw the rocks 
excavated, and the gigantic power of man penetrating through 
miles of the solid mass, and gaining a great, a lasting, an almost 
perennial conquest over the power of nature, by his skill and 
industry ; when I contemplated all this, was it possible for me 
to avoid the reflections which crowded into my mind not in 
praise of man's great success, not in admiration of the genius 


and perseverance he had displayed, or even of the courage he 
had shown in setting himself against the obstacles that matter 
offered to his course no ! but the melancholy reflections that 
all these prodigious efforts of the human race, so fruitful of 
praise, but so much more fruitful of lasting blessings to man- 
kind, have forced a tear from my eye, by that unhappy casualty 
which deprived me of a friend and you of a representative," 

" I know nothing," said Mr. George Leeman, M.P., many 
years afterwards, "comparable in the history of science to that 
triumphant march for such it was when the Liverpool and 
Manchester Railway was opened, with George Stephenson 
himself driving the Northumbrian engine ; Robert Stephenson, 
his son, the Phoenix ; Joseph Locke, the Rocket; Alcard, the 
Comet; Thomas Gooch, the Dart; and Frederick Swan wick, 
the Arrow all young engineers of that day who had imbibed 
the spirit and practical genius of George Stephenson men 
whose names, as well as those of others who have followed, 
have become part of our railway history men who are to be 
found, not only in our own country, but who have gone forth 
over the whole earth, and have spread their names wherever 
civilization is to be found, and have themselves been the great 
pioneers of civilization itself." 

Next day the business of the railway began. The Nort/tum- 
brian drew a train of 130 passengers from Liverpool to Man- 
chester in an hour and fifty minutes ; and before the close of 
the week six trains were running daily. Instead of thirty stage- 
coaches that had plied between the two towns, there was only 
one left ; but, instead of 500 passengers, there were 1,600. On 
one occasion one of the engines travelled thirty-one miles in 
less than an hour; and in February, 1831, the Samson accom- 
plished the greater feat of conveying 164 tons from Liverpool 
to Manchester in two hours and a half, a load that would have 
required seventy horses to draw. 

The advantages that accrued to the public from the opening 
of the Liverpool and Manchester line were great, but it did not 
realize the precise results expected. The goods traffic had been 
estimated at 50,000 a year, but did not produce 3,000 ; and 
coals, which had been put at 20,000, yielded less than 1,000. 
The tariff of the canal was lowered to that of the railway, and 
speed and attention to the accommodation of customers were 


increased. The canal also possessed this important advantage 
over the railway, that, as it wound through Manchester it touched 
the warehouses of the merchants and manufacturers, and it ter- 
minated at the Liverpool docks, thereby avoiding expense in 
cartage. On the other hand, the passenger traffic, which had 
been calculated at 10,000, brought in tenfold that amount; 
and instead of the passengers by the twenty or thirty coaches 
that had run between the two towns, there were more than 1,000 
a day. The saving to manufacturers in the neighbourhood ol 
Manchester, in the carriage of cotton alone, soon amounted to 
20,000 a year; while some houses saved 500 per annum. 
New factories were established and new coal-pits were sunk 
near the line, giving increased employment ; and while reducing 
the claimants for parochial relief, the line paid one-fifth of the 
poor-rates in the parishes. The shareholders of the company, 
also, by the latter part of the year 1835, were receiving a divi- 
dend at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum. 

The success of the Liverpool and Manchester line destroyed 
all doubt as to the possibilities of the railway system, and it was 
not long before its advantages were sought in other parts of the 
country. Branches were made from the main line to Warrington 
on the south, and to Bolton on the north, besides others of 
minor importance. At a later period, Birmingham was united 
to Warrington, and consequently with Liverpool and Manches- 
ter, by the Grand Junction Railway. 

It was subsequently resolved to form a line from London to 
Birmingham, and in 1830 two companies started on this enter- 
prise. By one it was proposed to proceed through Oxford ; by 
the other to pass near Coventry. Eventually the promoters of 
the two schemes decided to unite ; the Coventry route was pre- 
ferred ; surveys were made of the country through which the 
line was to pass, estimates of the expense of the works were 
completed, and an application was made to Parliament for the 
necessary Acts. In 1832 the Bill was read a third time and 
passed in the Commons, but a few days afterwards it was thrown 
out in the Lords, on the ground that it was undesirable to force 
" the proposed railway through the land and property of so great 
a proportion of dissentient landowners and proprietors." In the 
following year the Bill was again brought before Parliament, 
and received the sanction of both Houses. 


Some further reference should now be made to two men 
whose names are identified with the rise and progress of the 
railway system. George Stephenson was born in a small 
cottage, in the village of Wylam, on the banks of the Tyne, near 
Newcastle. He was the son of a collier, and had early to labour 
for his share of the household bread. Heavy were the demands 
upon him. When " too young to stride across the furrow " he 
went to plough. Then we find him picking bats and dross from 
the coal-heaps, at twopence a day, and he was still so small 
that he often hid himself when the overseer passed, lest he 
should be thought too little to earn his wages. Shortly after he 
entered his teens he worked as brakesman on a tramway, and 
subsequently became stoker to an engine on an estate of Lord 
Ravensworth, often having to rise at one and two o'clock in the 
morning, and to work till a late hour at night. Thankful in the 
receipt of a wage of a shilling a day, he declared, when this 
amount was doubled, that he was " a man for life." He was 
still a stoker but a thoughtful and observant one showing the 
native ingenuity that dwelt beneath his rough exterior in the 
execution of some repairs that were required in the machine he 
tended. Yet his circumstances were far from cheering. In the 
year 1800 the scourge of war, with famine in its wake, was 
raging over Europe. Wages were low and food was dear, while 
the militia and the pressgang imperilled the occupation of the 
artisan ; and we find George Stephenson seriously thinking of 
the New World as a more fitting field for his labours. With a 
keen and painful recollection of the embarrassments of that 
period, he afterwards remarked to one who was well acquainted 
with him : " You know the road from my house at Killingworth, 
to such a spot. When I left home and came down that road, I 
wept, for I knew not where my lot would be cast." 

As his prospects somewhat improved, he gave up the thought 
of emigration, and when he reached the age of twenty-two, he 
married. In 1803, his only child, Robert, was born. With in- 
creasing responsibilities the father became, if possible, still more 
industrious. He tried his hand at all kinds of work, and while 
he availed himself of every opportunity of personal improve- 
ment, he cut out clothes for thci pitmen, taught the pitmen's 
wives, and made shoes for his poorer relatives. 

Meanwhile, his powers of contrivance and invention h$d been 


developed in various ways, and had created for him what may 
be designated a local reputation. So decided was his ability, 
and so great was the confidence Lord Ravensworth and the 
Killingworth owners had in him, that they supplied him with 
money to make a locomotive, and in the month of July, 1814, it 
was tried on a tramway. " Yes," said Stephenson himself, in a 
speech which he delivered at the opening of the Newcastle and 
Darlington Railway, in June, 1844, "Yes, Lord Ravensworth & 
Co., were the first parties that would intrust me with money to 
make a locomotive engine. That engine was made thirty-two 
years ago. I said to my friends, that there was no limit to the 
speed of such an engine, provided the works could be made to 
stand. In this respect, great perfection has been reached, and, 
in consequence, a very high velocity has been obtained. In 
what has been done under my management, the merit is only in 
part my own. I have been most ably assisted and seconded by 
my son. In the earlier period of my career, and when he was a 
little boy, I saw how deficient I was in education, and made up 
my mind that he should not labour under the same defect, but 
that I would put him to a good school, and give him a liberal 
training. I was, however, a poor man ; and how do you think 
I managed. I betook myself to mending my neighbours' clocks 
and watches at night, after my daily labour was done ; and thus 
I procured the means of educating my son. He became my 
assistant and my companion. He got an appointment as under 
reviewer, and at night we worked together at our engineering. 
I got leave to go to Killingworth to lay down a railway at 
Hetton, and next to Darlington ; and after that I went to 
Liverpool, to plan a line to Manchester. I there pledged 
myself to attain a speed of ten miles an hour. I said I had no 
doubt the locomotive might be made to go much faster, but we 
had better be moderate at the beginning. The directors said I 
was quite right ; for if, when they went to Parliament, I talked 
of going at a greater rate than ten miles an hour, I would put a 
cross on the concern. It was not an easy task for me to keep 
the engine down to ten miles an hour ; but it must be done, 
and I did my best. I had to place myself in that most un- 
pleasant of all positions the witness-box of a Parliamentary 
Committee. I could not find words to satisfy either the com- 
mittee or myself. Some one inquired if I were a foreigner, and 


another hinted that I was mad." "I put up," he continued, 
" with every rebuff, and went on with my plans, determined not 
to be put down. Assistance gradually increased improve- 
ments were made and to-day, a train, which started from 
London in the morning, has brought me in the afternoon to my 
native soil, and enabled me to take my place in this room, and 
see around me many faces which I have great pleasure in look- 
ing upon." 

George Stephenson's connection with the Liverpool and Man- 
chester railway brought him into the front rank of the engineers 
of his day. He became an extensive locomotive manufacturer 
at Newcastle, a railway contractor, and a great colliery and 
iron-work owner, particularly at Clay Cross. It is recorded of 
him, that in reply to the inquiry of a lady, he said, in review of 
his past career : " Why, madam, they used to call me George 
Stephenson ; I am now called George Stephenson, Esquire, of 
Tapton House, near Chesterfield. And, further, let me say, 
that I have dined with princes, peers, and commoners, with 
persons of all classes, from the humblest to the highest. I have 
dined off a red-herring when seated in a hedge-bottom, and I 
have gone through the meanest drudgery. I have seen man- 
kind in all its phases, and the conclusion I have arrived at is 
this, that if we were all stripped, there is not much difference." 

Robert Stephenson, when a lad, served for three years as a 
coal-viewer to Mr. Nicholas Wood ; and, as better prospects 
opened up to his father, he attended the University of Edin- 
burgh for a session. During that period there was not a more 
diligent student there. He knew the value of knowledge, 
applied himself earnestly to its pursuit, and learned how to 
teach himself. In 1822 he returned from Edinburgh, and com- 
menced his apprenticeship to engineering, under his father, who 
had just established a steam-engine factory at Newcastle. But 
two years of laborious application to the study and practice of 
his profession, gave evidence, in his failing health, of the fact 
that he was doing too much even for his robust frame. It 
happened at that time that an expedition had been arranged 
for exploring the silver and gold mines of Venezuela, New 
Grenada, and Colombia, the charge of which was offered to him, 
and it was accepted. The change of work and of climate were 
the means of restoring his health, and on his way home, in 


1828, he met with Mr. Trevithick, the engineer, from whom he 
gathered much information in reference to the mines of Corn- 
wall, and this tended, by its application to the construction of 
locomotives, to his ultimate success in that department. 

During the absence of Robert Stephenson from England, a 
new era had arisen in our railway history. The Rocket was 
nearly completed. The success of that engine encouraged 
Robert Stephenson to devote his attention to the construction 
of locomotives ; and, by simplifying the working parts of the 
engine, enlarging the steam-generating capacities of the boiler, 
and varying the proportions of several parts of the engine, he 
obtained a great increase both of power and speed. The engines 
that issued, month by month, from the factory, were a con- 
tinuous improvement on their predecessors, until the Newcastle 
factory became the largest and most famous in the world. As 
railways increased, it sent engines to all the countries of Europe, 
and to the United States, and it manufactured about a thousand 
locomotives. A writer in October, 1850, said, while speaking of 
the achievements of railway enterprise, especially under the au- 
spices of Mr. Stephenson, that we then had about 5,000 miles of 
railway, in the construction of which 250,000,000 cubic yards, or 
not less than 350,000,000 tons of earth and rock had, in tunnel, 
embankment, and cutting, been moved. 

On the completion of the London and Birmingham, the 
Stephensons undertook the formation of the Birmingham and 
Derby, North Midland, York and North Midland, Manchester 
and Leeds, Northern and Eastern Railways, and for ten years 
were incessantly engaged upon the surveys, plans, parliamentary 
battles, and construction of the vast network of lines stretching 
in all directions throughout the kingdom. During this period, 
Robert Stephenson, as engineer-in-chief, executed the great iron 
cross of roads which, on the one hand, unite London with Ber- 
wick, and on the other, Yarmouth with Holyhead, making, with 
the lines in connection with them, not fewer than 1,800 miles of 
the iron highways of the country. They also planned the 
construction of an extensive system of railways in Belgium 
extending on the one hand from Ostend to Liege, and on the 
other, from Antwerp through Brussels, to be connected through 
Mons with Valenciennes, altogether 347 miles of railway. 

In the year 1846 Robert Stephenson visited Norway to 


examine the country for the purpose of a railway between 
Christiania and the Myosen Lake ; and he had honours con- 
ferred upon him, in acknowledgment of his able services, by the 
King of Norway and Sweden, as previously he had received 
distinctions from the King of Belgium. 

"It was but as yesterday," said Robert Stephenson in 1850, 
" that he was engaged as an assistant in tracing the line of the 
Stockton and Darlington Railway. Since that period, the 
Liverpool and Manchester, the London and Birmingham, and 
a hundred other great works, had sprung into vigorous existence. 
So suddenly had they been accomplished, that it appeared to 
him like the realization of fabled powers, . or the magician's 
wand. Hills had been cut down, and valleys had been filled 
up ; and where this simple expedient was inapplicable, high and 
magnificent viaducts had been erected ; and where mountains 
intervened, tunnels of unexampled magnitude had been un- 
hesitatingly undertaken. Works had been scattered over the 
face of our country, bearing testimony to the indomitable enter- 
prise of the nation, and the unrivalled skill of its artists. In 
referring thus to the railway works, he must refer also to the 
improvement of the locomotive engine. This was as remarkable 
as the other works were gigantic. They were, in fact, necessary, 
to each other. The locomotive engine, independent of the 
railway, would be useless. They had gone on together, and 
they now realized all the expectations that were entertained of 

"Healthy-bodied and healthy-minded," said a writer in the 
Westminster and Foreign Quarterly Review, " apt in emergencies, 
and yet of slow, and generally of sound judgment, Robert 
Stephenson may be regarded as the type and pattern of the 
onward-moving English race, practical, scientific, energetic, and, 
in the hour of trial, heroic. Born almost in the coal-mine, of 
the racy old blood of the north, with a father strong in mother- 
wit, stern of purpose, untiring in patience, careful of his small 
resources, keenly conscious of the bounded sphere his want of 
early education had kept him in till a later period of life, and 
determined to pare off from himself all luxuries, all but the 
merest necessaries, in order that his after-coming should start 
fair in life with that knowledge he himself held above all price 
born thus, Robert Stephenson was emphatically well-born. 


With natural talents, good education, a healthy frame, the 
rising prestige of his father's name, little money, and a large 
demand for original work in a working and energetic old world, 
he went forth to the New World, and in the mines of South 
America and their environs added new manners and customs to 
his varied stock of knowledge. More than all this, the genial 
spirit that ever looked kindly on his fellow-creature, with the 
intellect that could generally winnow the false from the true, 
marked him out for a leader of men. Not to his mere 
mechanical skill does he owe his success in life. That might 
have been thwarted in five hundred ways by interested rivals ; 
but men wish not to thwart those whom they love ; and pro- 
bably no chief of an army was ever more beloved by his soldiers 
than Robert Stephenson has been by the noble army of physical 
workers, who under his guidance have wrought at labours of 
profit, made labours of love by his earnest purpose and 
strength of brotherhood." 



Change of Public Feeling towards Railways. Wordsworth's Indignation. 
Alarm of Vested Interests. Colonel Sibthorpe. Opposition of North- 
ampton, Oxford, and Eton. Hatred " even unto Death." Prophecies of 
Disaster Falsified. Progress of Railway Enterprise. Select Committee 
of House of Commons. Excellent Dividends. Unwelcome Truths. 
Railway Mania. Extraordinary Excitement. Gambling and Suicide. 
"Stags." George Hudson. Remarkable Career. The Railway King. 
Decline and Fall Deposit of Plans at Board of Trade. November 
3oth, 1845. Sharp Practice. Statistics of Railways. Cost of Railway 
Mania. Disastrous Issues. Confidence Returning. 

URING the events that witnessed the 
successful establishment of the railway 
and the locomotive, the indifference or 
contempt with which both had been re- 
garded came gradually to be exchanged 
^i for other sentiments. Surprise, gratifi- 

cation, admiration, and hostility were 
warmly felt and expressed, according to 
the point of view from which the great 
innovation was regarded. Perhaps no feeling 
was so strong as that of those who feared that 
their vested interests or privileges were likely 
to be imperilled ; and those who had these 
alarms did not fail assiduously to impart them to others. A 
rumour that it was proposed to bring such a thing as a rail- 
road within a dozen miles of a particular neighbourhood, was 
sufficient to elicit adverse petitions to Parliament, and public 
subscriptions were opened to give effect to the opposition. 
Newspaper editors and pamphleteers ridiculed the delusiveness 
of the particular project. Householders were told that their 
homes would be hourly in danger of being burned to the 
ground, and farmers were assured that their hens would not 

The initial letter represents the mouth of a tunnel on the Lledyr Vale 
line, North Wales. 

33 D . 


lay nor their cows graze, and that game would fall dead to 
the ground if they attempted to fly over the poisoned breath 
exhaled by the engines. A poet laureate, when he heard of 
a proposal to bring a line from Kendal to Windermere, in- 
dignantly demanded 

"Is there no nook of English ground secure 
From rash assault ? Schemes of retirement sown 
In youth, and 'mid the busy world kept pure 
As when their earliest flowers of hope were blown, 
Must perish ; how can they this blight endure ? 
And must he, too, his old delights disown, 
Who scorns a false, utilitarian lure 
'Mid his paternal fields at random thrown? 
Baffle the threat, bright scene, from Orrest-head, 
Given to the pausing traveller's rapturous glance ! 
Plead for thy peace, thou beautiful romance 
Of nature ; and if human hearts be dead, 
Speak, passing winds ; ye torrents, with your strong 
And constant voice, protest against the wrong ! " 

Hundreds of innkeepers and thousands of horses would, it 
was said, have nothing to do. Labour for the poor would be 
lessened, and rates for the poor would be increased. Canals 
would be destroyed ; those who lived by them would become 
beggars ; and houses would be crushed by falling embankments. 
The 27,000 miles of turnpike-roads in Great Britain, to say 
nothing of the other public and cross roads of the country, 
would, it was averred, be made useless. Politicians declared 
that the railway system was " a monopoly the most secure, the 
most lasting, the most injurious that can be conceived to the 
public good ; " and that directors were " induced by no motive 
to action but their- own selfishness, swayed by every gust of 
prejudice and passion, and too often as profoundly ignorant of 
even their own real interest, as they are exclusively devoted to 
its advancement." Medical men asserted that the gloom and 
damp of tunnels, and the deafening peal, the clanking chains, 
and the dismal glare of the locomotives would be disastrous 
alike to body and mind. Hundreds of thousands of persons 
would be ruined for the benefit of a few. An eminent parlia- 
mentary lawyer affirmed that it would be an impossibility to 
start a locomotive in a gale of wind, " either by poking the fire, 
or keeping up the pressure of steam till the boiler is ready to 
burst." A well-known engineer deprecated " the ridiculous 


expectations, or rather professions, of the enthusiastic specu- 
lator that we shall see engines travelling at the rate of twelve, 
sixteen, eighteen, or twenty miles an hour. Nothing could do 
more harm towards their general adoption and improvement 
than the promulgation of such nonsense." " I hate these 
infernal railways," said the energetic Colonel Sibthorpe, " as I 
hate the devil." 

Nor did this opposition exhaust itself in words ; it expressed 
itself in active hostility to the various schemes projected. The 
London and Birmingham line was compelled to change its 
intended route through Northampton, and to keep at a respectful 
distance ; lest, said some of the worthies of that shoe-making 
town, the wool of the sheep should be injured by the smoke of 
the locomotives (though they burned coke) ; and therefore 
philanthropic souls ! they required that the purity of their 
fleeces should be preserved unsullied from the plutonic cloud, at 
the cost of the farmers of Blisworth and its neighbourhood. 
One consequence of this opposition was that the line had to 
be carried through the famous Kilsby Tunnel at an additional 
expense of ^"300,000. It was declared of the London and 
Birmingham Railway, that it would be " a drug on the country ;" 
that " its bridges and culverts would be antiquarian ruins ; " that 
" it would not take tolls sufficient to keep it in repair ; " that 
" the directors were making ducks and drakes of their money ; " 
that agriculture would be stopped ; that springs would be dried 
up, and meadows become sterile. "Like an earthquake, it 
would create chasms and upheave mountains ; " and it was 
added that " the railway promoter was like an evil Providence, 
unrighteously attempting that which Nature was too kind to 

Nor was such hostility confined to Northampton. Those 
seats of learning, Oxford and Eton, would not permit the Great 
Western bill to pass without the insertion of special clauses to 
prohibit the formation of any branch to Oxford, or of a station 
at Slough ; while it was declared by the authorities of the 
school, that anybody acquainted with the nature of Eton boys 
would know that they could not be kept from the railway if it 
were allowed to be constructed. When the directors subse- 
quently attempted to infringe the conditions with which they 
had been bound, by only stopping to take up and set down 


passengers, proceedings were commenced against them in 
Chancery, and they were interdicted from even making a pause. 

The hatred of railways, even to a late period, was cherished 
6y some " even unto death." A curious illustration of this was 
shown by a will proved in 1868 at Carlisle. The testator, a 
yeoman of Abbey Cowper, entertained a great objection to the 
construction of the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway, which 
passed through his property, and in order to show to the last his 
disapprobation of the undertaking and its promoters, he be- 
queathed one farthing to each of nine persons who took an 
active part in promoting it, and 750 to a land surveyor who 
valued his land for him when the Company took it. The bulk 
of the property was left to a distant relative, hampered, however, 
with the conditions that he " shall not " at any time travel in or 
upon the Carlisle and Silloth Bay Railway ; " and, further, that 
in case three local promoters of the line whom he named or 
any of them, or any of the sons of one of them, should call at 
Abbey Cowper on business, or for any other purpose, the legatee 
" shall not receive them into his house at Abbey Cowper afore- 
said, nor entertain them with meat, drink, or otherwise." 

But prejudice, vested interests, abuse and poetry, could not 
avert the advance of railways. The prophecies of disaster to 
landlords and farmers were alike unfulfilled : farmers could buy 
their coals, lime, and manure with less money, and could find 
readier access to the best markets for their produce. Cows still 
gave milk, sheep fed and fattened, and at length even skittish 
horses ceased to shy at the passing trains. " The smoke of the 
engines did not obscure the sky, nor were farm-yards burnt up 
by the fire thrown from the locomotives." The farming classes 
found that their interests were promoted by the extension of 
railways ; and landlords discovered that they could get higher 
rents for estates situated near a line. Even the proprietors of 
the canals were astounded to see that in the face of railway 
competition, their own traffic receipts continued to increase; and 
that they fully shared in the expansion of trade and commerce 
which had been promoted by the extension of railways. Horse- 
flesh, too, increased in value as railways spread; and the coaches 
tunning to and from the new stations gave employment to a 
greater number of horses than under the old stage-coach system. 
"Those who had prophesied the decay of the metropolis, and the 


ruin of the suburban cabbage growers, in consequence of the 
approach of railways to London, were disappointed ; for, while 
the new roads let citizens out of London, they also let country- 
people in. Their action, in this respect, was centripetal as well 
as centrifugal. Tens of thousands who had never seen the 
metropolis could now visit it expeditiously and cheaply; and 
Londoners who had never visited the country, or but rarely, 
were enabled, at little cost of time or money, to see green fields 
and clear blue skies, far from the smoke and bustle of town. 
The food of the metropolis became rapidly improved, especially 
in the supply of wholesome meat and vegetables. And then the 
price of coals an article which, in this country, is as indispen- 
sable as daily food to all classes was greatly reduced. What 
a blessing to the metropolitan poor is described in this single 
fact ! " 

The press, too, aided the cause of progress, and hastened to 
make known facts illustrative of the triumphs of the means of 
locomotion. Thus, so early as 1838, the proprietors of a Scottish 
periodical announced that, before their next number was pub- 
lished, in consequence of the sending of the mails to Warrington 
by the railway, the people of Edinburgh would receive their 
letters and papers an entire day sooner than during the time of 
the late war, namely, in thirty-one instead of fifty-five hours ; 
and a return by post between London and Edinburgh, which 
twenty years before occupied a week, would then be accom- 
plished in three days and a half ; and the Railway Magazine 
mentioned, as a prodigy of expedition, that a gentleman had 
lately gone from Manchester to Liverpool in the morning, and 
purchased a hundred and fifty tons of cotton, which he imme- 
diately took back with him to Manchester. He there sold the 
lot, returned to Liverpool, purchased a second lot, and delivered 
it the same evening. 

The report of the Board of Trade stated that, in the year 1843 
no fewer than 24,000,000 of passengers had travelled, the average 
journey of each being fifteen miles. 

The lines sanctioned by Parliament during the year 1844 
were brought forward partly on account of their intrinsic merits, 
and partly as measures of self-defence, adopted by established 
Companies to exclude rivals. So energetically were these steps 
taken, and so enterprising was the spirit of those connected with 


these lines, that at a meeting of the Midland Railway Company 
upon this subject, the proprietors voted two millions and a half 
of money to be applied, at the discretion of the directors, to the 
formation of lines of which no definite plans were then decided 

Another class of projects consisted of branches or junctions, 
formed as connecting links between existing lines, but the pre- 
cise course of which seriously affected the question as to which 
main line would attract the largest amount of traffic from the 
intermediate districts. The new undertakings of various kinds 
brought before the public during the year 1844, numbered no 
fewer than a hundred and fifty. 

Early in the Session of 1844, a Select Committee of the House 
of Commons was appointed to consider the Standing Orders 
relating to railways, and also to examine the whole subject of 
railway legislation. That Committee recommended several 
modifications of the existing orders, which were adopted. By 
these a reduction was made in the deposit required by Parliament 
before introducing a railway bill, to one-twentieth of the amount 
of capital, instead of one-tenth, which had been demanded under 
the regulations of 1837. The Committee also recommended a 
new method of investigating the merits of railway bills, by refer- 
ring them to a Select Committee consisting of members whose 
constituents had no local interest in the measure, and who were 
themselves in no way personally involved in the bill referred to 

The results of the labours of the Railway Committee were 
brought before the House in several subsequent reports, upon 
which a bill was founded, which required that one train should 
pass from one end to the other of every trunk, branch, or junc- 
tion line, once at least each way on every week-day ; that the 
time at which these trains should start should be fixed by the 
Lords of the Committee of Privy Council; that each train should 
travel at an average rate of speed of not less than twelve miles 
an hour, including stoppages ; that it should take up and set 
down passengers at every passenger station on the line ; that 
the carriages should be protected from the weather, and provided 
with seats ; that the fare should not exceed a penny a mile ; 
that half a hundred weight of luggage shall be allowed to each 
passenger, any excess being charged at a regulated rate. It was 


further enjoined, that children of three years old shall be con- 
veyed without charge, and that from that age up to twelve, the 
rate should be one-half the amount of an adult passenger. 

A remarkable feature of the railway history of the year 1845 
was the number of amalgamations made between individual 
lines, and the arrangements of the principal companies to lease 
the minor lines connected with their own undertakings. But 
there were a large number of cases which, after an agreement for 
such an union of interests had been made by the directors, and 
sanctioned by a public meeting of proprietors, were " repudiated" 
at subsequent meetings in consequence of a rise in the market 
value of the stock, or of the prospect of obtaining more favour- 
able terms with another company. 

But we have drawn near to a great epoch, not only in the 
history of the railway, but of the monetary world. Up to the 
year 1843, and during part of 1844, railways may be regarded 
as honestly working their way through good and evil report 
into the public appreciation of their value, not only socially and 
generally, but as a means for the investment of capital. The 
security and profit they offered were so great that there was a 
rapid flow of capital in the new direction. The dividends paid 
by the London and Birmingham, by the Liverpool and Man- 
chester, and by the York and North Midland Companies were 
at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum, while the Grand Junction 
was paying n, and the Stockton and Darlington 15 per cent. 
The temptation of such dividends could not be resisted. Enter- 
prise outran prudence, and railways became for the time popular 
beyond every other kind of investment. There had been a brief 
mania for new lines in 1836, but it had not reached fever-heat ; 
and the reaction, with the consequent losses, had not induced 
caution. Money was abundant. The Bank rate of discount was 
2\ per cent. Consols were above par, and everything seemed 
to promise the continuance of a golden age. This surplusage of 
capital and the growing manufacturing wealth of the country 
proved the occasion for the outbreak of one of those periodical 
manias which appear, and (like the South Sea Bubble) leave their 
black mark behind. Unemployed engineers and attorneys, with 
the tribe of promoters, jobbers, and speculators A^re n- ot s l o \v to 
perceive the advantages they might derive Exagr/ era t e d ac- 
counts were spread of the vast wealth to be c/^sity gained- 


Popular cupidity was inflamed, and railway investment became 
a fashion and a frenzy. To doubt the profits was branded as 
ignorance, and to deny the success was madness. From week 
to week during the winter of 1844 the delusion spread. 

Meanwhile the Report of the Select Committee on Joint 
Stock Companies, in 1844, announced many unwelcome truths. 
It stated that when a company was to be formed, the prospectus 
was usually first issued, sometimes without the names of direc- 
tors, in the expectation that parties would form themselves into 
a direction for its support ; and advertisements were issued of 
the new project. As soon as the scheme attracted attention, 
applications were made, in the hope that the shares would come 
out at a premium, however small ; and if that was secured, every 
species of influence was employed to obtain an allotment which 
could be sold. Mr. Duncan, M.P., stated that frequently the 
shares were not attended to at all, for the applications of persons 
were not made with a view to investment, but for the immediate 
premium. " The reason," he said, " why these letters can be 
dealt in, is because the company's bankers, not knowing one 
from another, take money from everybody who brings a letter 
of appropriation, and they give a receipt. This receipt is taken 
to the company's office and exchanged for a scrip certificate to 
bearer, and then the title of the buyer of the letter is complete. 
If there be much risk about the company, or no great soundness, 
or if it be ill supported by the directory, a second call can never 
be obtained. The consequence is, that after from six to twelve 
months' duration, the company is dissolved, and dies a natural 
death, and the deposit is found to be eaten up by expenses." 

Such were the facilities at the command of those who em- 
barked in what came to be known as the Railway Mania, and 
every event was made to contribute to the excitement. In 
January, 1845, sixteen new companies were registered ; in Feb- 
ruary and March this number was more than doubled, and in 
April fifty-two additional companies were formed. Popular 
enthusiasm was hastening forwards in an unjustifiable and 
insane career. 

Amidst ^ preat number of bond fide undertakings appeared a 

to p re V n '\ble projects, concocted by those who cared only 

of legftfcBBkcsty or credulity of others. Out of a true spirit 

Vise arose a mania, in the midst of which 


many a needy rogue was transmuted into what society calls 
"a gentleman." One chief object was to get possession of the 
deposit money, and to spend it in preliminary expenses (i.e. 
their own), and in lawyers' bills. The capital required was 
small. A few knaves engaged an office, bought a map, struck 
out a railway in what appeared to be a suitable direction, gave 
it a plausible title, and with a sheet of foolscap and a " Court 
Guide " made a prospectus, on which they placed the names of 
a few noble lords, right honourables, ex-M.P.s, and merchants, 
to which an engineer, banker, and lawyer were added, and the 
whole was " served up," with imaginary advantages, and with 
the assurance of at least ten per cent, dividend. The excitement 
of the times prevented much chance of the detection of the 
fraud, and the inexperienced who wished to speculate were taken 
in. Shares were advertised at 2 or 2 los. for the first instal- 
ment, only a certain number being allotted, that they might 
bring a full price, while " stags " were actively engaged in in- 
quiring for shares which they never intended to purchase, and 
only asked for to give them a fraudulent value in the market ; 
or perhaps they bought a few with the deposit-money which 
subscribers had paid, in order to produce the same result. As 
soon as the premium was reached the price was forced upwards, 
and then the shares were placed as fast as possible upon the 
market. The profits thus realized were, in many instances, 
enormous ; cabs were set up, " tigers " were hired, and good 
coats and clean shirts began to be worn by men who had been 
strangers to these luxuries for many a day ! 

The successes of both honest men and of knaves in share- 
speculating encouraged large numbers of both classes to embark 
in the enterprise, and the mania proportionately increased. The 
Manchester Guardian reported that during one week eighty-nine 
new schemes had been announced in three newspapers, the 
capital required for which was estimated at more than eighty-four 
millions ; while in the space of a month three hundred and fifty- 
seven railway projects were advertised in the same journals, 
having an aggregate capital of three hundred and thirty-two 
millions sterling. 

" Old men and young, the famish'd and the full, 
The rich and poor, widow, and wife, and maid, 
Master and servant all, with one intent,' 


Rushed on the paper scrip ; their eager eyes 
Flashing a fierce unconquerable greed 
Their hot palms itching all their being fill'd 
With one desire." 

Lord Clanricarde mentioned in the House of Lords that a clerk 
named Guernsey, in a broker's office, with twelve shillings a week 
wage, and the son of a charwoman, had his name down as a 
subscriber for shares in the London and York line for 52,000. 
Bland country vicars became "bears," curates were "stags," 
and old maiden ladies became " bulls," on the Stock Exchange. 
Servants wrote for shares in their master's names ; and there 
is a story told of a butler at the West-end giving notice to his 
mistress to quit, as he had realized several thousand pounds by- 
shares. On' the lady asking him how this was, " Why, ma'am," 
he said, " I applies for the shares, and gives a reference here ; 
and, as I opens the door myself, and answers the reference, I 
always gives myself the wery highest character for property and 
all that, and so I gets the shares and sells them." And thus we 
have the living prototype ofjeames of Buckley Square, renowned 
in song and story. 

A voluminous return, subsequently made in conformity with 
an order of the House of Commons, shows the general excite- 
ment in these speculations. It includes the names of all who 
subscribed for less sums than 2,000 ; and among them may be 
recognised many of the leading nobility, the largest manufactur- 
ing firms, and individuals well known from their connection with 
various departments of science, literature, and art. The juxta- 
position of the professions or engagements of some is very 
amusing. Side by side are " peers and printers, vicars and vice- 
admirals, spinsters and half-pays, M.P.s and special pleaders, 
professors and cotton-spinners, gentlemen's cooks and Q.C.s, 
attorneys' clerks and college scouts, writers at Lloyd's, relieving 
officers and excisemen, barristers and butchers, Catholic priests 
and coachmen, editors and engineers, dairymen and dyers, 
braziers, bankers, beer-sellers, and butlers, domestic servants, 
footmen, and mail-guards ; with a multitude of other callings 
unrecorded in the Book of Trades." 

" Every man of the present day," said Cruikshank in his Table 
Book, " is a holder of shares in a railway ; that is, he has got 
some pieces of paper called scrip, entitling him to a certain pro- 


portionate part of a blue, red, or yellow line drawn across a map 
and designated a railway. If the coloured scratch runs south to 
north, it is generally called a Trunk Line ; if it ' turns about 
and wheels about ' in all directions, leading to nowhere on its 
own account, but interfering with every railway that does, ten 
to one but it is a Grand Junction ; and if it lies at full length 
along the shore, it is a Coast Line. Trunk lines are generally 
the best, because the word trunk naturally connects itself in the 
mind of the public with the idea of luggage, and a good deal 
of traffic is consequently relied upon. Grand Junctions are good 
speculations, as troublesome customers, likely to be bought off 
by larger concerns, which would consider them a nuisance ; and 
as street nuisances generally expect a consideration for moving 
on, a Grand Junction may ask a good price for taking itself off 
from an old-established company." 

The localities of railway enterprise were curious. From 
Moorgate Street issued nearly ninety prospectuses of railways, 
the capital required for which amounted to as many millions 
sterling. In Gresham Street twenty were planned, requiring for 
their construction the sum of more than seventeen millions, and 
eight of them having originated in one house. Well might 
Punch say, " As many as seventeen thousand newspapers have 
been found in the General Post Office with their covers burst. 
The reason of the newspapers bursting is accounted for by the 
fact that they contain so many railway bubbles." 

The " manufacture " of the managers and officers of companies 
was in many cases on an equally wholesale system. Taking the 
list of the members forming the provisional direction of twenty- 
three companies, one man was discovered who belonged to them 
all ; two, each of whom figured on nineteen companies ; three 
who had given their names to seventeen companies ; fourteen 
who belonged to fourteen companies ; twenty-two to ten ; 
twenty-three to eight ; and twenty-nine to seven. These 
twenty-three provisional committees divided among themselves 
352,800 shares, at the rate of 2,800 a-piece. 

The Irish railways furnished even a more ample list of plural- 
ist directors ; and it is asserted that there was no difficulty in 
pointing out several who held office in no fewer thai* thirty 
railway directions. The same parties even appeared as the 
promoters of rival lines ; and individuals were the avowed 


patrons of three competing companies at the same time. Specific 
instances could easily be cited. 

The names of gentlemen wholly unconnected with railways, 
and who would have utterly repudiated association with the 
men who advocated them, were unhesitatingly employed for the 
purpose of lending a supposititious countenance to bubble com- 
panies. One line was declared to enjoy the patronage of four 
gentlemen who had been dead for several months ; and ten 
others had no knowledge of the existence of the scheme till they 
saw it paraded before the public, avowedly under their own 
sanction. In another case, the three leading projectors of a 
very costly railway were notoriously " living by their wits," and 
could not have raised a hundred pounds among them except by 
fraud. The course usually adopted when gentlemen protested 
against the unwarranted use of their names, was to assure them 
that it was quite a misunderstanding ; but after many apologies, 
its use was continued till public exposure was threatened, or 
the object was secured. 

Affairs went on in this manner for some time, all men know- 
ing that a crash must come. "The prospect becomes more 
serious," said a writer, "when it is discovered in what feeble 
hands great masses of this speculation rest ; in what manifold 
ways the mischief has descended through all classes of society ; 
to how many persons a reverse will be utter ruin, not to them- 
selves only, but to helpless numbers whom they have deceived, 
with whose funds they have been gaming, or to whom they owe 
debts that can neither be paid nor spared. We tremble to think 
how much more of the like vice and folly, now concealed under 
this surface of bustle and feverish excitement, may be at this 
moment struggling in the grasp of the same evils, and preparing 
other lamentable scenes of failure, shame, and madness. It is a 
vice which we fear is becoming an utter plague in the land a 
pestilence destructive of things infinitely more precious than 
even the fortunes or maintenances which it rashly hazards. 
Every day brings us some new instance of its hateful effects 
upon private happiness and public character. Now we are told 
of shameful disclosures affecting the honour of men in office, 
persons whom it was our English boast, for the last half century 
at least, to proclaim to the world as above the suspicion of any 
foul handling of lucre. Now we are called to deplore the utter 

" STAGS/' 45 

ruin of a household, dashed down from decent competency into 
beggary and disgrace, in the frantic pursuit of sudden wealth. 
The next moment we hear of a pious defaulter for hundreds of 
thousands ; and, turning from him in disgust, we stumble on 
the body of a suicide ! " 

The sinews of war, once obtained, were quickly put into re- 
quisition to further the objects of the projectors of the line. It 
was on the deposits which thus came into their hands that 
directors, without money themselves, counted to carry on the 
management. The company, once started, could prosecute its 
operations on a large scale. " Confidence, generosity, cash, were 
sure to command success. Crack engineers were engaged at 
large salaries, and received carte blanche for their surveys and 
surveying parties. Advertising agents were directed to be active 
and liberal ; they boasted to editors and proprietors of news- 
papers of their instructions. The newspapers puffed, and 
charged like heroes ; the directors and secretaries bragged to 
the newspaper writers ; surveyors composed epics on the capa- 
bilities of the lines ; and shareholders listened to the lay, with 
the vague, swelling, dreamy delight of opium-eaters under the 
influence of their drug. All concerned assumed that the nomi- 
nal capitals of all the projected companies would be actually 
forthcoming ; all counted upon the share in the plunder which 
they had in imagination allotted to themselves, being as sure as 
if they had already held it in gold." 

The " stags," who performed so important a part in the 
Railway Mania, should not go unnoticed. They were an unique 
race, though there were several grades of this remarkable calling, 
each with its appropriate designation. A regular thoroughbred 
stag was perhaps some forty years old, or upwards, with a face 
wearing a peculiarly sinister expression, tainted with colours 
suggestive of strong drinks. His apparel was worthy of his 
vocation, but varied according to the circumstances of the case, 
or the occasion. Sometimes he disported a faded suit of. black 
then he appeared in drab unmentionables and gaiters ; but 
there was almost invariably a tint about his garments, which is 
only to be expressed by the word seedy. Some individuals of 
the species had an appearance akin to that of those " sporting 
gents" who are to be found near the betting places. on the 
course, and they all had a taste for sporting. They indulged in 


small transactions of this kind, and did not eschew skittles ; and 
if a stag had his hand in his pocket, he was generally fumbling 
a greasy halfpenny, which he called into frequent requisition in 
order to decide, by tossing up, any disputed point in reference 
to which his veracity might be called in question. This, how- 
ever, was in his easier moods. A writer who sketched this 
interesting class, thus described the stag when professionally 
engaged : " When sneaking into an office as a slate quarry 
proprietor, or great railway capitalist, he has a subdued air, and 
the clerk in his teens, and first experience of railway business, 
listens to his inquiries with becoming deference, and ushers him 
into the presence of the secretary, or sees him carefully lay up 
the letter of application in his enormous pocket-book, to which 
his multifarious memoranda are consigned, and which contains 
a list of all the applications he has under hand, entered 
systematically, with the several names and addresses made use 
of. The clerk little thinks that the bulk in his coat pocket 
consists of several enormous bundles of prospectuses, greasy 
outside, and bound up with red tape. It is needless to say, that 
the stag has long since been in the position of having no 
character to boast of, having gone through all the several stages 
of whitewashing, remand, and imprisonment in Whitecross 
Street, with perhaps some experience ol the criminal juris- 
prudence of his country. He has^ a knowledge of business, for 
he has failed in it ; and he is disinclined to begin again, as he is 
an uncertificated bankrupt. He hates work, and prefers misery. 
Where he lives no one knows. His letters are generally ad- 
dressed to the Old Kent Road ; but it is doubtful whether he 
have any residence at all. His mornings begin by carefully 
examining all the daily papers at a pot-house or cheap coffee- 
house, where he makes copious memoranda of all the places to 
be called at for prospectuses and forms of application. He then 
gets his letters, and if he has the good luck to get any shares 
allotted, he proceeds to sell the latter among his brethren ; and 
glad is he if he can take a few shillings home. Besides looking 
after prospectuses, he occasionally varies his pursuits by signing 
deeds, to make up the parliamentary subscription list. This he 
does for the consideration of, perhaps, five shillings per name, 
/ going in, it may be, with a pair of spectacles on, and signing 
the deed, and then returning without the spectacles, and signing 


in some other capacity. A well-known hotel and tavern-keeper 
in Covent Garden is reputed to contract occasionally for supply- 
ing these vagabonds with such things, and with the carrying 
out schemes for plundering the small tradesmen, and other 
unfortunate individuals having money, who get dealings with 
them." The stag passed the evening, if lucky, in the pot-house. 

Our history at this period would be incomplete were not 
some allusion made to the remarkable but changeful fortunes of 
one whose name is indissolubly associated with this era of our 
railway system. George Hudson was born in 1800, served his 
apprenticeship in the ancient city of York, and subsequently 
carried on business there as a linendraper, and became a man of 
considerable property. " The happiest part of my life," he said, 
many years afterwards, "was when I stood behind the counter 
and used the yard measure in my own shop. My ruin was 
having a fortune left me. I had one of the snuggest businesses 
in York, and turned over my thirty thousand a year, when a rela- 
tion died and left me a goodish fortune. It was the very worst 
thing which ever happened to me. It led me into railways and 
to all my misfortunes since." The results that had attended the 
opening of the Liverpool and Manchester line had attracted 
the attention of the country at large ; and while various 
schemes of railways were proposed for different parts of the 
country, the people of York also determined to have their own 
railway. A line between York, Leeds, and London was pro- 
posed ; Mr. Hudson was appointed one of the provisional 
committee ; and, on the passing of the bill into law, he was 
made the chairman of the board. His efforts in this capacity 
were so satisfactory, that the cost of the land he procured for 
the railway averaged only 1,750 a mile, while that of the 
North Midland had amounted to upwards of ^"5,000. "Hud- 
son's line," as the people called it, was opened on the 2Qth of 
May, 1839, and on the 1st of July of the following year the 
linendraper of York had the great satisfaction of seeing the first 
locomotive speed on its way from the old archiepiscopal city, 
his native place, to the metropolis. 

These successes were only an incentive to fresh efforts. To 
avoid rivalry between his own and a neighbouring line, he 
proposed that the latter should be leased to himself and friends 
for thirty-one years ; the plan was approved : the result, in a 


pecuniary sense, was gratifying ; and other great schemes were 
undertaken by him, his most determined opponents shrinking 
before his enterprise and influence. The shareholders of the 
North Midland, for instance, were involved in difficulty. Mr. 
Hudson appeared before them, and in a remarkable speech 
contended that their expenses might be reduced nearly one-half, 
enforced his arguments with facts and figures, and offered to 
guarantee double the then dividend if his scheme of amendment 
was adopted. He was made chairman of a committee of share- 
holders, the directors resigned, and Mr. Hudson was appointed 
instead. His reforms were vigorously carried out, the efficiency 
of the line was increased, the cost halved, and the shares 
doubled in value. Other great plans were successfully under- 
taken embarrassed lines were relieved weak ones were 
strengthened rivals were subdued. Ever active, vigorous, and 
energetic, his capacity for business was singular ; and it may 
without dispute be asserted, that up to a particular period of his 
history his efforts were highly advantageous to the railways 
with which he was connected. He found himself chairman of 
600 miles of railway, extending from Rugby to Newcastle. 
"His name became an authority on railway speculation, and 
the confidence reposed in him was unbounded. For a time the 
entire railway system of the north of England seemed under 
his control. What herculean energy was in the man may be 
gathered from a couple of days' work. Under Mr. Hudson's 
direction, on the 2nd May, 1846, the shareholders of the Midland 
Company gave their approval to twenty-six bills, which were 
immediately introduced into Parliament. On Monday following, 
at ten o'clock, the York and North Midland sanctioned six bills, 
and affirmed various deeds and agreements affecting the Man- 
chester and Leeds and Hull and Selby companies. Fifteen 
minutes later he induced the Newcastle and Darlington Com- 
pany to approve of seven bills and accompanying agreements ; 
and at half-past ten took his seat as a controlling power at the 
board of the Newcastle and Berwick. During these two days 
he obtained approval of forty bills, involving the expenditure of 
about ; 10,000,000." He was looked upon with feelings of 
admiration and wonder, as one at whose magic touch everything 
turned into gold. 

Many pictures might be drawn of the strangely varied 


career of the " Railway King." One has been sketched by 
an eye-witness : " The place was the drawing-room of a well- 
known noble patron of the fine arts, the occasion was a semi- 
public conversazione connected with national objects, at which 
representative men ' men who had done something ' were 
present by the hundred. England's greatest authors, sculptors, 
painters, inventors, philanthropists, statesmen, physicians, 
engineers, captains, jostled each other in the crowded rooms. 
Amid the constellation of celebrities there were two men round 
whom the crowds circled, both receiving the deference of the 
great and noble. One was the late Prince Consort, the other 
was George Hudson. They looked rival monarchs, each with 
his obsequious courtiers round him, and divided pretty equally 
the honours of the evening. Those who were not able to come 
within speaking distance of these great men waited patiently, 
and as near to the charmed circles as they could. Suddenly 
there was a movement, and a gentleman was seen to pass from 
the Prince Consort's followers and to make his way to the little 
court which hemmed in the Railway King. It was like a pleni- 
potentiary carrying a message between neighbouring potentates. 
' The Prince has asked to be introduced to Mr. Hudson.' " 

After a while the enthusiasm cooled, and the tables were 
turned. Mr. Hudson's connection with the Eastern Counties 
Railway, and the truth that ultimately came to light, that 
dividends had been paid out of capital ; the method in which 
he had conducted the business of some other companies ; and 
the fact that many sustained fearful losses by the fall in the 
value of their property, produced a revulsion in the public mind 
in reference to their hero. Probably much of the invective 
poured upon him came from those of whose purity there was 
little to boast. The fox that loses his tail is persecuted by all 
the foxes ; the rook that is maimed is cawed out of the rookery 
Mr. Hudson may be regarded as the type of the period in which 
he acted so prominently, as an illustration of the spirit of that 
epoch in the history of manias. He had been held up to 
adulation because he had accumulated great wealth his highest 
achievement, in the view of thousands, was the fact that he had 
made 100,000 in one day and he was deified because he 
enabled others to be successful too. 

" The truth is," said a writer of that time, " Mr. Hucteon is 



neither better nor worse than the morality of 1845. He rose 
to wealth and importance at an immoral period ; he was the 
creature of an immoral system ; he was wafted into fortune 
upon the wave of a popular mania ; he was elevated into the 
dictatorship of railway speculation in an unwholesome ferment 
of popular cupidity, pervading all ranks and conditions of men ; 
and whatever may be the hue of the error he committed, it is 
rather too much to expect of him that he should be purer than 
his time or his associates. The commercial code of 1845 was, 
as far as railways were concerned, framed upon anything but 
moral principles. The lust of gain blinded the eyes of men 
who, before that period, could see clearly enough the difference 
between right and wrong, between trading and gambling, and 
between legitimate and illegitimate speculation. Men who 
would have scorned to do a dishonest act towards any other 
real tangible living man, did not scruple to do acts towards that 
great abstraction, the public, which no morality could justify." 

In his old age, it was rumoured among some of the former 
friends of George Hudson, that he was in poverty ; it was said 
that he frequently went hungry to bed ; whereupon a fund was 
raised sufficient to purchase him an annuity of 600 a year a 
kindness and help for which he was deeply grateful. In his 
later days he would freely chat over the events, great and small, 
of former times. " The speeches he made when at the height 
of his prosperity ; the quiet grave in the little Yorkshire church- 
yard which he bought for himself long ago, and which he went 
down to visit from time to time ; the social fun he had in former 
days with * old George Stephenson, the best of fellows and the 
best of friends ; ' his civic triumphs as Lord Mayor of York, and 
the quaint piece of plate which he insisted that holders of that 
high office are required to use while at the Mansion House ; his 
dealings with his lady customers when he kept a shop ; his 
visits to the nobility ; his victories at railway boards ; the way 
h was run after by the great world of London, and the zest 
with which he enjoyed the eclat and the fun of it all ; the 
respect with which he was listened to when speaking in the 
House of Commons ; the opinions he had enforced in various 
great commercial enterprises, and how others were profiting by 
them, were wont to be quoted and expatiated on by him with 
a hearty interest. He was fond, too, of telling the origin of his 

THE 30TII OF NOVEMBER, 1845. 51 

title of Railway King. ' Sydney Smith, sir, the Rev Sydney 
Smith, the great wit, first called me the Railway King ; and 
I remember very well that he made a very pretty speech about 
it, saying, that while some monarchs had won their title to 
fame by bloodshed and by the misery they inflicted on their 
fellow creatures, I had come to my throne by my own peaceful 
exertions, and by a course of probity and enterprise.' " 

But we are approaching another epoch in the history of 
railways. Parliament had required that plans of proposed rail- 
ways should be deposited at the offices of the Board of Trade, 
on or before Sunday night, the 3Oth of November, 1845, and 
extraordinary efforts were necessary on the part of numerous 
railways to have their documents completed for that occasion ; 
while the supply of labour in every department being greatly ex- 
ceeded by the demand, its value proportionately increased in all 
directions. Innumerable surveyors and levellers were required, 
and in many instances they made from six to fifteen guineas a-day ; 
while numbers of persons were employed who were acquainted 
with only the rudiments of the art, and who, by their blunders, 
subsequently occasioned even fatal inconvenience to the enter- 
prises in which they were concerned. The extravagant pay- 
ment that was offered, also induced great numbers to leave 
situations they occupied in order to learn the new business ; 
while professors, lecturers, and teachers announced classes, 
lectures, and private instruction, which with almost magical 
celerity would convert all persons of ordinary powers into 
practical men earning enormous payments. Still the supply 
was not equal to the wants of the case, surveyors and levellers 
became " worth their weight in gold," and countless amateurs pre- 
sented themselves. A peddling stationer, who long itinerated in 
Northumberland and Durham, earned " five guineas a day and 
his expenses " on a southern railroad ; and the Lancaster Guar- 
dian stated that a fat neighbour, long unemployed, obtained an 
engagement of three guineas. " I could have had five," said 
he, " but it would have been in a country where the gradients 
were severe, and too trying for my wind ; " and he preferred 
three guineas and a level line. No fewer than eighty surveyors 
arrived in Lancaster in one day for the York and Lancaster 
line only, and they were followed by another " batch * a few 
days afterwards. During the month of November scarcely a 


copperplate could be obtained, all the large houses having 
received as many orders as they could complete ; and not 
unfrequently the money was paid in advance, to secure their 
execution. During the last week, some of the most eminent 
engravers did not consider it beneath their professional dignity 
to aid in the work. Lithographic and zincographic draughts- 
men were collected from all the large towns in England, and 
many from France and Germany, who made their own terms 
with their employers. Prices rose with the demand, and at 
last almost any sum was paid to those who would undertake 
to execute the work. 

During the last few days of November, engravers and printers 
laboured night and day ; but in many instances, only the out- 
lines of the plans were engraved ; and mere tracings were 
deposited with the plans, the figures being filled in by hand. 
Most of the engineers had from twenty to a hundred assistants 
thus engaged ; and as the work approached completion, many 
had not been in bed for a week. 

On the 29th and 3Oth of November, the work of depositing 
the plans remained to be accomplished. By a strange over- 
sight the Sabbath had been made the last day on which the 
documents could be deposited at the offices of the Board ; and 
the excitement and bustle were in entire disaccord with the 
proprieties of the occasion. The majority of the papers had 
to be transmitted from the provinces. The opponents of the 
lines were also on the alert, and a variety of tricks were re- 
sorted to to frustrate the designs of the projectors. Some of the 
companies on whose lines express trains had been ordered 
for the conveyance of the plans, and who felt that their own 
interests were in danger from the proposed lines, interposed 
almost every conceivable obstacle, and one of them ultimately 
refused to convey the required documents to London. The 
friends of the new rival, however, were not to be out-generalled, 
and they resorted, for the accomplishment of their object, to 
an original ruse. On receiving a peremptory denial to their 
demand for the means of transport, the promoters of the com- 
peting line hired an undertaker's hearse, and having placed the 
plans, sections, and clerks inside, they conveyed it to the 
station, and it was unhesitatingly forwarded with its contents 
to the metropolis. Six special trains had been ordered on the 


Great Western line for nearly the same hour, for each of which, 
it is said, 80 were paid. 

Various other illustrations of " sharp practice " were furnished 
on this occasion. Horses had been engaged at one of the 
principal hotels by the promoters of the Dudley, Neadely, and 
Trowbridge line, to convey their papers to Stafford. The cattle 
had been kept in the stable during four days, in order that 
they might be thoroughly ready for their journey ; but on 
being " turned out " at the required time, they did not go at a 
greater rate than four miles an hour. The attorney in charge 
failed by request, demand, and intimidation, to produce any 
effect on the postboys, and he came to the conclusion that they 
had received a handsome consideration from the opponents of 
the line ; so, finding that exceptional means must be resorted 
to if he expected to arrive at his destination within the required 
period, he leaped from the carriage, detached the traces, and 
thrashed the postboys till they roared for mercy. He then 
resumed his seat, and the remainder of the stage was performed 
at the speed of fifteen miles an hour. Nor were these solitary 
instances of the determination required, and of the fertility of 
resource exhibited, on the part of the friends of the proposed 
lines, in the fulfilment of their important commissions. 

In the year 1844, the number of projects, in respect of which 
plans were lodged with the Board of Trade, had been 248 ; the 
number in 1845 was 815. The projectors of most of the 
Scottish lines, with characteristic prudence, lodged their plans 
on the Saturday. The Irish projectors, and the old established 
companies seeking powers to construct branches, were among 
the earliest, but upwards of six hundred plans remained to be 
deposited on the Sabbath. The excitement was extraordinary ; 
and as the time rolled away, it increased to a painful intensity 
till the last hour of the Sabbath arrived. A large establish- 
ment of clerks had been in attendance to go through the 
necessary formalities, and the arrangement proceeded very well 
till eleven o'clock, when the delivery increased so rapidly that 
the officials were unable to keep pace with the arrivals. 
Vehicles, however, of all sorts and sizes continued to dash up, 
and in breathless haste to discharge their contents of documents 
and projectors. The entrance hall was crowded, and as the 
allotted period was gliding away, the expression of anxiety 


on the countenances of those assembled indicated their appre- 
hension that, after all their efforts, they should be unable to 
complete the required arrangements within the time that re- 
mained. Eager inquiries were made, and speculations offered 
on the probabilities of those who arrived with their plans before 
the hour had elapsed being allowed to complete the business 
afterwards ; and their countenances brightened when they were 
assured that this privilege would be granted. As the clock 
struck twelve, the doors of the office were about to be closed 
when a gentleman with the plans of one of the Surrey railways 
arrived, and with the greatest difficulty succeeded in obtaining 

Despite every effort, however, some were unsuccessful. " The 
witching hour of night, when churchyards yawn and graves 
stand tenantless," never seemed half so terrible to the rustic 
as it did to the unfortunate wights who, hastening to the offices 
of the Board of Trade, failed to reach it when " the iron tongue 
of midnight " smote upon their ear, and told them that the 
3<Dth of November, 1845, had passed away for ever. A lull 
of a few minutes now occurred in the hall of the Board ; but 
just before the expiration of the first quarter of an hour, a 
post-chaise with reeking horses drove up in hot haste to the 
entrance. Three gentlemen immediately alighted, and rushed 
down the passage leading to the office door, each bearing a 
plan of huge dimensions. On reaching it, and finding it closed, 
their countenances fell ; but one of them, more valorous than 
the rest, and prompted by the by-standers, gave a loud pull 
at the bell. It was answered by Inspector Otway, who in- 
formed the ringer that it was too late, and that his plans could 
not be received. The agents did not wait for the conclusion 
of the unpleasant communication, but, taking advantage of the 
open door, threw in the papers, which broke the passage lamp 
in their fall. They were, however, soon tossed, back into the 
street, and again into the office ; and this " was kept up for 
nearly half an hour, to the great amusement of the crowd." 
The projectors, however, were unsuccessful, and discomfited, 
were obliged to retire. 

The statistics of railways at this time show the wholesale way 
in which great schemes had been undertaken without any idea 
of their cost, or of the resources from which they were to be 


carried out. We find that in November, 1845, the enormous 
number of 1,428 lines were either made, or authorised to be 
made, or announced to the public, and registered. The vastness 
of these enterprises will be seen by comparison with the lines 
which had been at that time completed, or were then in pro- 
gress. Including the session of 1845, rather more than four 
hundred Railway Acts had been passed, relating to about two 
hundred and fifty lines, some of which had not been completed. 
Of these nearly a hundred new lines were authorised during the 
preceding session, three times as many as in any previous ses- 
sion. Only forty-seven lines were, between 1823 and the end of 
1844, actually completed. Passing next to the cost of these 
railways, the aggregate sum which Parliament had empowered 
Companies to raise, whether as capital or by loan, was 
154,716,937, including the earlier and ruder descriptions of 
railways constructed for the carriage of coals and ore, from 1801 
to 1825. It also includes the relinquished lines. The forty- 
seven lines completed from 1823 to the end of 1844, cost 
70,680,877. The number of railways then in progress was 
1 1 8, their aggregate mileage 3,543, and their estimated cost was 
67,359,325. By adding, therefore, to the actual cost of all the 
completed lines the estimated cost of all lines then in progress, 
we arrive at the aggregate capital of the railway undertakings 
of the country as it then stood, amounting to 138,040,202. Of 
the projected lines there were 1,428, with an estimated capital of 
701,243,208, and a deposit of 49,592,816. On one scheme 
40,000,000 was to be expended. 

The cost of the Railway Mania was enormous. Worthless 
and fraudulent as were many schemes, they involved as much 
preliminary expense as if they had been good. Offices, agents, 
lawyers, engineers of every class, advertising and meetings to 
puff, were not to be obtained at any reasonable outlay. It is 
computed, on high authority, that on the proposed capital at 
least one per cent, was expended for the above-mentioned pur- 
poses. " We will answer for it," says a competent writer, " that 
during the two or three months immediately preceding the late 
salutary check, as much as a hundred thousand pounds a week 
vere spent in railroad advertisements alone." This statement 
was made on November 8, 1845, and the advertising still con- 


But a change now "came o'er the spirit of the dream" of 
railway enterprise. Thousands had bought stock in the hope 
of realizing profit by the speculation, but, having no intention of 
permanent investment therein, were anxious to back out of the 
concerns with which they were identified. Projectors of bubble 
Companies, too, were obliged to meet their shareholders, and, 
in the most gentlemanly terms, to intimate their deliberate and 
conscientious conviction, that though some eighty or a hundred 
thousand pounds had been expended, yet that, on the whole, it 
would scarcely be expedient to proceed with the line. Holders 
of shares, having discovered the manner and extent to which 
they had been duped, uttered threats of exposure and of the 
terrors of the law, and were then rewarded for their trouble by 
the discovery that the projectors were not worth punishing ; or 
before legal proceedings had commenced saw their acquaint- 
ances comfortably reading the morning newspaper on board 
a Boulogne or Ostend steam-packet, whither they were going 
with their ill-gotten plunder. Railway speculations were found 
to be alike in this, that " a hook's the end of many a line." 

To sell scrip connected with new lines, even at any sacrifice, 
was now almost impossible; and the only relief which great 
numbers of holders looked for was, that the bills would be 
thrown out by Parliament, and that some unappropriated funds 
would remain. This hope was cherished with respect even to 
some lines which, a few months before, were regarded as most 
promising ; and it was said by competent authorities that prob- 
ably there was not at that time a single new railway undertak- 
ing on which the majority of the shareholders would not have 
voted for its abandonment. The most doubtful schemes were 
even regarded as the best for holders, inasmuch as the Parlia- 
mentary Committee would strangle them in the birth. 

Pay-day came at last, and, as every thinking man had seen 
was inevitable, there was disappointment and misery for thou- 
sands. Well was it said, in imitation of the well-known words 
of the poets : 

" Oh ! many a stag, late blithe and brave, 
Forlorn 'mounts the ocean wave ;'* 

# " Say, mounts he the ocean wave, banish'd forlorn, 

Like a limb from his country cast bleeding and torn ?" 

Campbell's Lochiel. 


And many a ' letter ' has been torn, t 
And countless scrip to trunks be borne ; 
And many an antler'd head lies low, 
Which whilom made a glorious show ! 
And many a fast coach now ' crawls slow ' !" 

The process of " breaking up " manifested itself in various 
forms, according to the circumstances of the case, or the tem- 
perament of the individuals concerned. " Internal dissensions," 
said a writer in Taifs Magazine, " are breaking out among 
directors and their coadjutors, hurrying' them before mayors 
and bailies, preparatory to more regular campaigns in the courts 
of law." Newspapers sent in their bills for advertising, and 
pressed for payment, and boards audited the bills, called for 
vouchers, and quarrelled with the charges. Surveyors were 
clamorous for wages, and secretaries for overdue salaries. 
Parties to whom scrip was allotted refused to pay deposits for 
what they now regarded as an unsuccessful concern ; boards, to 
accelerate the payment of deposits, reduced the amount of their 
calls ; and impatient holders, who were precipitate in paying up, 
asked to have the excess refunded, out of an empty treasury. 
Tart remarks and bitter rejoinders grew into decided acts. 
" One angry man goes with quiet concentrated malice, at white 
heat, to consult his lawyer ; another rushes, roaring like a boy 
that has been soundly thrashed, into a mayor's court to tell his 
1 pitiful story.' The newspapers, as usual, blow the coals, for 
every 'excitement' promotes sale. The public mutters, 'Try 
the responsibilities of directors in a law court ; ' and deeply- 
staked directors respond to the hint by advertising a Defensive 
Association. The genius of Westminster Hall laughs, crows, 
and claps its wings ; nay, it did so months ago. In July, the 
Law Magazine coolly discussed the various points likely to arise 
when this crisis came : the hoodie crows croaked their consulta- 
tions anent picking bones, in the ears of their unheeding 

t u And many a banner shall be torn, 
And many a knight to earth be borne ; 
And many a sheaf of arrows spent, 
Ere Scotland's king shall pass the Trent." 

Scott's Marmion< 


A parody which appeared about this time, described the posi- 
tion of affairs with great accuracy : * 

"There was a sound that ceased not day or night, 
Of speculation. London gathered then 

Unwonted crowds, and, moved by promise bright, 
To Capel Court rushed women, boys, and men, 
All seeking railway shares and scrip ; and \vhen 

The market rose, how many a lad could tell, 

With joyous glance, and eyes that spake again, 

J T was e'en more lucrative than marrying well ; 

When, hark ! that warning voice strikes like a rising knell. 

" Nay, it is nothing, empty as the wind, . 

But a ' bear' whisper down Throgmorton Street; 
Wild enterprise shall still be unconfined ; 

No rest for us, when rising premiums greet 

The morn, to pour their treasures at our feet ; 
When, hark ! that solemn sound is heard once more, 

The gathering ' bears ' its echoes yet repeat 
'T is but too true, is now the general roar, 
The Bank has raised her rate, as she has done before. 

" And then and there were hurryings to and fro, 

And anxious thoughts, and signs of sad distress, 
Faces all pale, that but an hour ago 

Smiled at the thoughts of their own craftiness. 

And there were sudden partings, such as press 
The coin from hungry pockets mutual sighs 

Of brokers and their clients. Who can guess 
How many a stag already panting flies, 
When upon times so bright such awful panics rise ?" 

Time rolled on, and exercised its healing powers. The first 
railway panic subsided. The apprehensions of many were found 
to be unreasonable ; and though fraud had characterized rail- 
way speculation, there was still much substantial good. Railway 
authorities gave the best account of the Companies with which 
they were severally connected, confidence was gradually re- 
stored, and railway works began to be prosecuted with vigour. 
Trunk lines guaranteed interest to the shareholders of branches 

* " There was a sound of revelry by night." 

Childe Harold. 


and extensions which were feared as rivals ; they were accepted 
as feeders, for a time they proved to be suckers. People won- 
dered, but they did not distrust; shares continued at a premium; 
satisfactory dividends were declared ; and the railway world 
went on in fancied security. 

But before long it was found that, though large sums in the 
form of dividends were divided among shareholders, calls were 
frequently threefold as great. These at last created a suspicion 
that all was not right, vague impressions arose, which were in 
some cases proved to be correct, that the glittering dividends 
were paid out of what ought to have been regarded as capital, 
and that the expenses of railway management were too great 
to allow of even moderate dividends, without a change of 

The result was inevitable shares sank in an extraordinary 
degree, and everything seemed to be going from bad to worse. 
Where was the remedy for the evil ? " Confine the total 
amount of calls," said a writer in one of the railway journals, 
"during the whole of the next year, 1849, to 6,000,000 ; that 
sum will be ample to finish lines nearly completed, and to open 
them for traffic. Reduce the rate of interest on loans to four 
per cent." Besides this, a publication of the accounts of the 
Companies was indispensable. The "balance-sheet of a rail- 
way Company," said the Times t " has now no more effect than 
a sheet of waste paper ; and as it would be perfectly easy to 
give accounts that would make everything clear, and these 
accounts are not given, it is naturally inferred that the market 
would not be benefited by the prospect they would indicate ; 
and hence, that, although the end cannot be known, there is a 
certainty, at all events, that it has not yet been reached. If 
there is a single Company that is considered by its Directors 
to have fallen too low in the market, they can set the matter 
right. There are plenty of shrewd people at this moment, 
notwithstanding the hardness of the times, waiting with money 
in their pockets to find investments. Give them a statement 
such as they would require, and such as any city accountant, 
with the materials at his command, would prepare in a form 
that the simplest tradesman might understand it, and forth- 
with they will bid within a fraction of the true value of the 



The Companies were at length impressed with the importance 
of these considerations, several of them were led to publish their 
accounts, which showed their real condition to be in some re- 
spects better than had been believed ; and by the promises to 
limit their calls for the future, and their announcements on 
other matters, they succeeded in allaying the popular fears, 
stock rose in the market, and confidence began to be restored. 



New Railway Project. The Prospectus. Advertisement. Deposit 
Money. Flying Levels. The Course of a Line. Opposition to Survey. 
Mr. Gooch. A Clergyman Outwitted. The Breadalbane People. 
"The Battle of Saxby Bridge." Experience of Surveyors. Mr. Shar- 
land Snowed Up. Deposit of Notices. Fighting for the Act. Theory 
and Practice of Parliamentary Committees." The Railway Session." 
" The Minting Age." The Hon. John Talbot and Mr. Charles Austin. 
Scenes in Railway Committee Rooms. Amusing Displays of Foren- 
sic Genius. The Defence and the Attack. Witnesses. Professional 
Reputations. Sir Edmund Beckett. Cheap Amusement. Buying off 
Opposition. Enormous Prices for Land. A Curious Bill. Compensa- 
tion. A Pleasing Exception. Buying an Editor. Mr. Venables, Q.C., 
on Compensation. Decisions of Parliamentary Committees. The Pre- 
amble Proved. Cost of Parliamentary Contests. Cost of Railways. 

HE circumstances under which rail- 
way enterprises are now under- 
taken are essentially different 
from those in which, in former 
days, some of them came into 
being. For many a year their 
origin was, as we have seen, more 
or less speculative. "Project 
money," was perhaps paid for 
the idea. Directors of supposed 
business habits, with possibly 
"a lord" or two for ornamental 
purposes, were selected by the projectors of the scheme, and 
a secretary, an engineer, a banker, and a solicitor, were chosen 
chiefly under the influence of private considerations. A pro- 
spectus was then privately circulated, and was inserted in the 
principal daily and local newspapers, in which an enlightened 
and a discriminating public was informed of the important project 
which had been devised. In due time a newspaper reaches the 

The initial letter represents George Stephenson's birthplace. 



breakfast-table of the happy owner of a little uninvested capital, 
who unfolds the packet, still as damp as the sheets of a German 
bed. His eye glances over subjects dramatical, political, poetical, 
and paragraphical, now he alights on this piece, and then he 
flutters off to that ; and after running up one column and down 
another, like an aide-de-camp on a battle-field, disregarding the 
accomplishments of nursemaids, or the number of housemaids 
who want situations " where a footman is kept ; " wondering, 
for an instant, how a gentleman, no more than fifty, who 
possesses, according to his own candid confession, "all the 
virtues out of heaven," and 500 a-year to boot, should be 
reduced to the unpleasant necessity of advertising for a wife ; 
and meditating for an instant on a variety of other equally 
momentous problems, the prospectus of " the Grand Diddlesex 
Junction," of which he has already heard, attracts his attention. 
Therein he reads that a " direct, cheap, and convenient railroad " 
is to be constructed through a populous and wealthy district, 
situated in a county or in counties whose manufacturing, mining, 
agricultural, trading, or commercial resources are minutely and 
vividly delineated. The document expatiates on the incon 
veniences which are at present caused by the inadequacy of the 
means of communication ; and the assurance is given to all in 
whose neighbourhood the line will pass, that it will be a boon 
to trade, and will revive or augment all its commercial interests. 
The cost of the required land is either " moderate," or a com- 
paratively " trifling " item ; the whole line, with necessary 
appendages, can be completed at an expense of so many 
hundreds of thousands sterling ; and the annual return on the 
traffic arising from passengers and goods will yield, at moderate 
rates of tonnage, satisfactory dividends. The date is added at 
which the Act of Parliament will be applied for in order to 
incorporate the subscribers as a Company, with all usual and 
necessary powers for carrying out the proposed scheme, and for 
the proper conduct and regulation of its affairs. The time and 
place at which the annual general meeting will be held ; the 
number and value of the shares to be raised ; the bank into 
which the money is to be paid ; and an invitation to all persons 
who wish to take shares, to apply to the chairman of the 
Provisional Committee, usually follow this part of the statement ; 
the assurance being added, that the present defective nature and 


the expense of the means of communication between districts 
so important, which " have been so often and loudly complained 
of," render unnecessary any apology for the present under- 

The logic and eloquence of the prospectus overcome the 
reader, and before his last cup of now luke-warm coffee is 
swallowed, he resolves to write, without delay, to the Provisional 
Committee of the " Grand Diddlesex Junction," and to request, 
in accordance with the prescribed " form of application " which 
is subjoined to the prospectus, that there may be "appor- 
tioned " to him " shares in the above proposed railway ; " and he 
engages to pay "the deposit of 2 IDS. per sjiare upon such 
allotment," and to sign its subscription contract required by 
Parliament, and also the subscribers' agreement. 

With the deposit money thus obtained from subscribers, 
preparations are commenced for gaining the sanction of the 
Legislature to the proposed Company. The route of the line 
has to be definitely determined, and the plans and sections 
for the Parliamentary Committee to be prepared. In doing all 
this the considerations that have to be regarded are numerous, 
complicated, and weighty. The relative importance of various 
towns and villages which lie in the direction of the railway, and 
the traffic which may be expected ; the character and resources 
of the district, whether agricultural, commercial, or manufac- 
turing ; the number and nature of the population, and other 
statistical intelligence, must be collected from the best sources, 
and prepared in legal form. Take the map. There are the 
termini, and there are the intermediate towns. And what about 
these "intermediates?" Nothing, some reply. Select your 
termini, they say, and run your line between them as straight 
as you can. It is not even necessary that there should be a 
single house upon the route. Open the line, and as people flock 
to the banks of that first great highway, a river, so they will 
flock (we are assured) to your railway ; and in due time, the 
direct line, in which there is no original error to correct, will 
pass through a large and rich population which it has itself 
attracted or created ; will have feeders by branches to all the 
towns that stood out of its route when projected ; and there will 
be no more notion of a competing line to it, than there would 
have been in former days to the Appian Way. Such were the 


opinions boldly avowed as to the principle on which a decision 
should be made of the route of the line. But that was at a time 
when railways were few and far between. 

It is said that when the Emperor Nicholas of Russia was 
asked to give his decision respecting the construction of a railway 
between St. Petersburg and Moscow, he indignantly threw aside 
the plans submitted to him, exhibiting lines more or less curved, 
and asking for a fresh map, laid his sword from the new to the 
old capital of Holy Russia, and drawing a straight line between 
the two points, he tossed the map over to the astonished 
engineer, " Voila votre chemin de fer." But this is not at any 
rate the conventional method ; with the Ordnance map in his 
hand, and the mountain barometer in his pocket, with which 
to take "flying levels," the engineer "monarch of all the 
surveys " has to visit the districts through which the line may 
pass, and perhaps make a selection from three or four eligible 
routes, each of which may be liable to a variety of modifications 
as discretion may dictate ; while the magnitude of the question 
at stake gives an importance to his decisions which few can 
appreciate if they have not felt the weight of similar responsi- 
bility. The acquaintance with the features of the country which 
is requisite may be illustrated by the fact, that when Mr. R. 
Stephenson was determining the route of the London and 
Birmingham Railway, he is said to have walked over the inter- 
vening districts no fewer than twenty times. Meanwhile, trial- 
shafts and borings are made by the assistants of the engineer, 
which reveal the geological formation of the various strata, 
and which may present important facts which will have to be 

The difficulties which arise in planning the course of a railway 
are sometimes great. A few years ago an engineer of eminence 
was sent by the Grand Junction Railway Company to ascertain 
the best route for a line from Lancaster among the valleys of 
the North of England. On returning, he declared that, though 
he had been able to see his way as far as a certain place in 
Westmoreland, no man living could construct a railway farther 
in that direction, and that the project must be abandoned. In 
less, however, than two years, a country surveyor produced 
plans of a line which, without a tunnel, or any other work 
of special difficulty, except a long climb up and over the hill 


of Shap, runs to Carlisle and on to Scotland by the western 
side of the island. 

Having completed his observations, and collected the infor- 
mation of his assistants, the engineer sums up the evidence, and 
marks out the route which the line shall take ; and few are the 
instances in which the decisions thus arrived at have been open 
to subsequent impeachment. Rivers and streams are crossed 
as near their sources as possible ; hills and valleys are skirted ; 
towns and places where land is expensive are cautiously ap- 
proached ; pleasure grounds and gentlemen's seats are avoided ; 
and a general estimate is made for setting off the amount of 
cuttings or embankments as nearly as possible against one 

: '.. v 


The route of the line must now be surveyed and levelled with 
the utmost precision. Surveying may be described as the art 
of determining the form and dimensions of tracts of ground, 
with any objects that may exist thereupon. A representation 
on paper is made of all these objects, and also a delineation of 
the slopes of the hills, as the whole would appear if projected on 
a horizontal plane The ground has also to be levelled in order 
that it may be ascertained how much higher or lower is any 
given point on the surface of the earth from any other. The 
engineer is thus able to adopt measures for reducing the whole 
of the new line to a level, or to such gradients as may be 
deemed most expedient to adopt 


The work of surveying and levelling for railways has often 
been attended with no small difficulty, apart from the natural 
obstacles to be encountered. The annoyance felt by the owners 
of pleasure grounds at the invasion, or even the immediate 
proximity, of railways, has occasioned many serious quarrels 
between the surveyors and the agents of the proprietors. The 
opposition thus raised, however, seldom caused any ultimate 
inconvenience to the projectors, who contrived, by some means 
or other, to accomplish their design. 

This hostility was shown at the commencement of railway 
enterprise, as the following evidence, given before the Committee 
of the House of Commons, on the 27th of April, 1825, will 
indicate. The questioner was Serjeant Spankie, and the respon- 
dent George Stephenson : 

" You were asked about the quality of the soil through which 
you were to bore in order to ascertain the strata, and you were 
rather taunted because you had not ascertained the precise 
strata ; had you any opportunity of boring ? " " I had none ; 
I was threatened to be driven off the ground, and severely used 
if I were found upon the ground." " You were quite right, then, 
not to attempt to bore ? " " Of course, I durst not attempt to 
bore after those threats." " Were you exposed to any incon- 
venience in taking your surveys in consequence of those inter- 
ruptions ? " " We were." " On whose property ? " " On my 
Lord Sefton's, Lord Derby's, and particularly Mr. Bradshaw's 
part." " I believe you came near the coping of some of the 
canals ? " " I believe I was threatened to be ducked in the pond 
if I proceeded ; and, of course, we had a great deal of the survey 
to make by stealth, at the time when the persons were at dinner ; 
we could not get it by night, for we were watched day and 
night, and guns were discharged over the grounds belonging to 
Captain Bradshaw, to prevent us; I can state further, I was 
twice turned off the ground myself by his men ; and they said, 
if I did not go instantly they would take me up, and carry me 
off to Worsley." Here the Committee inquired : " Had you ever 
asked leave ? " " I did, of all the gentlemen to whom I have 
alluded ; at least, if I did not ask leave of all myself, I did 
of my Lord Derby; but I did not of Lord Sefton, but the 
Committee had at least I was so informed ; and I last year 
asked leave of Mr. Bradshaw's tenants to pass there, and they 


denied me ; they stated that damage had been done, and I said 
if they would tell what it was, I would pay them, and they said 
it was two pounds, and I paid it, though I do not believe it 
amounted to one shilling." " Do you suppose it a likely thing 
to obtain leave from any gentleman to survey his land, when 
he knew that your men had gone upon his land to take levels 
vvithout his leave, and he himself found them going through 
the corn, and through the gardens of his tenants, and trampling 
down the strawberry beds, which they were cultivating for the 
Liverpool market ? " " I have found it sometimes very difficult 
to get through places of that kind." 

In some cases large bodies of navvies were collected for the 
defence of the surveyors ; and being liberally provided with 
liquor, and paid well for the task, they intimidated the rightful 
owners, who were obliged to be satisfied with warrants of com- 
mittal and charges of assault. The navvies were the more 
willing to engage in such undertakings, because the project, if 
carried out, afforded them the prospect of increased labour. 
Great difficulties were encountered in making the surveys for the 
London and Birmingham Railway ; and though it is probable 
that in every case as little injury as possible was done, because 
it was the interest of those concerned to conciliate the landed 
proprietors, yet in several instances the opposition was very 
decided, and even violent. In one case no skill nor ingenuity 
could, for a considerable time, evade the watchfulness and 
resolution of the lords of the soil, and the survey had to be 
made at night, by the aid of dark lanterns. On another occa- 
sion, when Mr. Gooch was taking levels through some of the 
large tracts of grazing land a few miles to the west of London, 
two brothers, by whom the land was occupied, came to him 
in great anger, and insisted on his immediately leaving the 
property. He contrived to learn from them that the adjoining 
field was not theirs, and therefore remonstrating only briefly 
with them, he walked quietly through a gap in the hedge into 
the next field, and planted his level on the highest ground he 
could find his assistant remaining at the last level station, 
about one hundred and sixty yards distant, apparently quite 
unconscious of what was taking place, although one of the 
brothers was hastening towards him, for the purpose of sending 
him away. Had the assistant moved his staff before Mr. Gooch 


had taken the sight at it through the telescope of his level, all 
his previous work would have been lost, and the survey would 
have had to be completed by some other means, or not at all. 
The moment Mr. Gooch began looking through the telescope 
at the staff held by his assistant, the farmer nearest him, spread- 
ing out the skirts of his coat, tried to place himself between the 
staff and the telescope, to intercept the view, and at the same 
time shouted violently to his comrade, desiring him to make 
haste and knock down the staff. But before this could be done, 
the observation was completed. 

In another instance a clergyman offered such decided oppo- 
sition to the intruders, that the expedient was resorted to of 
surveying his property during the time he was engaged in his 
public duties on the Sabbath. A strong force of surveyors were 
in readiness to commence operations by entering the grounds on 
one side, at the time that they saw him fairly off on the other ; 
and, by an organised arrangement, each completed his task just 
as the reverend gentleman ended his sermon. 

In the surveying of the land for a railway at Glenfallach, a 
serious affray took place between the Breadalbane people and 
the agents of the projectors. The first survey of the line had 
been completed ; but it was found necessary that an engineer 
should be sent to re-examine a small portion near Crainlarich. 
Some days elapsed after the original parties had retired, and as 
the new comer had only one attendant with him, he at first 
attracted little attention. But at length the hated theodolite 
was recognised, and the miners of Clifton were summoned to 
the defence of the land from the assaults of the railway intruders. 
It was said that the surveyor drew a sheath knife ; but whether 
in his own defence, or for the purpose of removing the screen 
of plaids interposed between him and the measuring-rod, was 
doubtful ; but the survey being almost completed, the conflict 

Another disturbance took place near the village of Appleton, 
eight miles from York, between some " watchers " and a railway 
surveyor and his assistant, who had been employed by the 
Cambridge and Lincoln Company. It appears that the party 
attempted to enter a field of Sir W. Milner, Bart., but their 
progress was opposed, and a serious struggle ensued, the sur- 
veyors making a determined attack on the men who obstructed 


them. The servants of the baronet, however, obtained a re- 
inforcement, and the aggressors were taken in custody to York. 
On the following day the defendants were brought to the Castle, 
and charged with committed assaults, one man being danger- 
ously wounded in the head, and two others being severely 
injured. After much mutual recrimination, the magistrates 
bound the surveyor and his assistants over to keep the peace 
for six months ; and as their work was nearly completed, they 
cheerfully complied with the requirement. 

One of the most determined struggles of this kind took place 
on the estate of Lord Harborough. That nobleman gave notice 
to the friends of the Peterborough and Nottingham Junction 
Railway that he should not permit their surveyors to enter his 
land. In the maintenance of this resolution a struggle ensued 
at Saxby, near Stapleford Park. The contest began by one of 
his lordship's men standing before the surveyor, and preventing 
his carrying the chain forwards, on which the latter drew a 
pistol and threatened to shoot him. Undaunted, the keeper 
replied, " Shoot away ! " and a slight scuffle ensued, in which 
the pistol v/as, fortunately, not discharged. This event was 
called "the Battle of Saxby Bridge," as one of the surveyors 
subsequently remarked to us, " and we were lodged in Leicester 
jail as ' first-class misdemeanants.' " An effort, also, was made 
to survey the park from the towing-path of the Oakham Canal, 
which was considered to be a public road, whereupon a number 
of Lord Harborough's people obstructed the surveyors, seized 
their instruments, and put the parties themselves in a cart, to take 
them before a magistrate. His worship, however, being from 
home, it is said that his lordship's steward ordered them to be 
turned out of the cart, and while this was being done, some of the 
surveying instruments were broken. The solicitor of the Company 
subsequently saw the steward, and declared his proceedings 
were unjustifiable, but intimated that, if no further obstruction 
were offered, legal measures would not be resorted to. 

The experiences of surveyors, even when not opposed by 
violence, have sometimes been unpleasant. Such was the case 
in 1869, on the part of one who attended to the survey for a 
new line to reach the Cleveland iron district in Yorkshire. " For 
some weeks," said a local writer, "strangers have been about 
the Cleveland Hills, their object being to get a road through 


the hills to the plain of Cleveland. Of course this work has 
been done ' on the quiet ' as much as possible, but, nevertheless, 
the errand has oozed out. Dispersed into parties this week, one 
gentleman (name unknown, but hat bearing the initials ' W.L.L.') 
had a dreadful night of it on Tuesday, showing that railway 
prospecting, without a guide, in the wild moorlands of North 
Yorkshire, is no joke. Starting for a ' push on ' from the 
Grosmont Junction towards Scarborough, this gentleman, in a 
dense fog, found night come on, in which he became bewildered, 
and eventually rode or slid down a clayey slopement into the 
Black Beck. Here he lost horse and hat, and had himself great 
difficulty in regaining terra firma. Once there, nothing re- 
mained but a night on the moor, and there he stopped till 
daylight ensued, and a kindly shepherd housed and warmed 
him in a moor-hut. Having recovered, the 'prospector' was 
taken to a railway station, and left for London." 

When Mr. Sharland was engaged in staking out the centre 
line of the then intended Settle and Carlisle line of the Midland 
Company, and had taken up his quarters at a little inn on Blea 
Moor, a bare and bleak hill 1,250 feet above the level of the sea, 
and miles away from any village, he was literally snowed up. 
For three weeks it snowed continuously. The tops of the walls 
round the house were hidden. The snow lay eighteen inches 
above the lintel of the front door, a door six feet high. Of 
course all communication with the surrounding country was 
suspended ; and the engineer and his half-dozen men, and the 
landlord and his family, had to live on the eggs and bacon 
in the house. In another week their stock would have been 
exhausted ; and it was only by making a tunnel, engineer- like, 
through the snow to the road they could even get water from 
the horse trough to drink.* 

The surveys for the projected line being at length completed, 
it is required that copies of the document be deposited with the 
clerks of the peace of the counties through which the line is 
intended to pass, and also with the parochial and other author 
ities ; and every landholder receives a section showing the depth 
of cutting or embankment across his estate. 

* " The Midland Railway : Its Rise and Progress." 13 y Frederick S. 


These and other preliminaries being settled, the duty of 
" righting for the Act," as it is termed, commences. If this is 
obtained, the petition is transmuted into an Act of Parliament, 
and by it the subscribers are authorized to incorporate a Com- 
pany for executing the proposed design and are provided with 
the powers requisite for their work. 

The theory and the practice of Parliamentary Committees on 
Railway Bills have during late years undergone considerable 
modifications. At one period the Committee was open to the 
visit and the vote of the members of the boroughs and the 
counties through which and adjoining which the projected line 
was to pass ; and sometimes a " whip " was applied to secure 
the passing or the rejection of a Bill or of a clause. Since the 
year 1844, however, members who have been in any way con- 
nected with the particular line have been excluded from taking 
any direct share in the decision on the matter. But the most 
memorable period in the history of Parliamentary Committees 
on Railways was after the great Railway Mania. The excite- 
ment of what was emphatically called the " Railway Session " 
was unexampled. Cabs rushed in and out of Palace Yard in 
fearful haste ; clerks and witnesses in their hurry tumbled over 
one another ; while the avenues were thronged with anxious 
groups of engineers, surveyors, and shareholders, waiting for the 
meeting of the committees. Lobbies and ante-rooms were 
besieged by crowds of railway projectors, parliamentary agents, 
and others connected with the great work of the day ; and the 
approaches to the committee-rooms were every now and then 
blocked up by sturdy porters and messengers, struggling under 
the weight of maps, plans, and sections. The old cloisters of 
the Westminster Palace rung with cabalistic sounds of " datum 
level," " gradient," " goods traffic," " loop-line," and other foreign 

Counsel learned in the law hurried from their chambers to the 
fommittee-room, in obedience to the golden voice that invited 
them ; and those who divided the spoil of the railway Companies 
had good reason to remember that " minting age." The desire 
of the promoters of railways to retain particular counsel in their 
several cases was in accordance with the spirit of the times a 
mania ; and though, doubtless, the gentlemen so courted had 
created the demand for their services by the ability they had 


previously displayed in that particular line of practice, and 
though the handsome fees with which their labours were re- 
warded, would, under ordinary circumstances, have secured their 
best exertions on behalf of the undertaking, yet, as they had not 
the power of ubiquity, their efforts were necessarily limited. 
Often they had to rush from one committee-room to another 
before they had said half they wished in advocacy of the views 
of their clients : and thus they spent the hours from eleven to 
four almost in a state of bewilderment the only idea that pre- 
sented itself clearly before them being that, for all this bustle and 
work, they were perhaps receiving fees to the amount of 200 or 
300 a-day. It is affirmed that practice before Committees of 
the House of Commons has, in many cases, produced three times 
larger incomes than ever have been acquired in the regular pur- 
suit of the profession. Among others, Mr. Cockburn was very 
successful. -Mr. Charles Austin, also, got into practice at the 
Parliamentary bar when that profession " was in its palmiest 
condition, and his marvellous gifts as an advocate gave him a 
position there, the like of which was never attained by any other 
man in any branch of its profession. His income in the year 
1847 the great railway year was something fabulous. His re- 
putation was so great that he received many briefs merely in 
order to prevent his appearance on the other side ; and this, no 
doubt, is the origin of the story (mythical or not) of his being out 
riding in Hyde Park on one of the busiest days of the session. 
' What in the world are you doing here, Austin ? ' was the inquiry. 
' I am doing equal justice to all my clients.' " He is said to have 
made, for four years, an average of 40,000 a-year. The Hon. 
John Talbot is known to have received more than 12,000 
a-year; and juniors, who never obtained 200 a-year at West- 
minster Hall, made 3,000 or 4,000 per annum before com- 
mittees during those three years. 

While counsel thus performed such valuable services in the 
cause of railways, there was another class scarcely less import- 
ant the witnesses. Hundreds and thousands of these were in 
request. There were plenty of people to be had, who, having 
nothing else in the world to do, for an adequate consideration 
could express a very decided, and of course competent, opinion 
in reference to a new line, or on the resources of a town in 
their neighbourhood. Many, doubtless, were honest and sincere 


enough ; but numbers did the whole thing as a matter of busi- 

Amusing displays of the forensic genius of the counsel and 
of the engineers, pitted against each othef, were made on these 
occasions. The counsel who appears on behalf of the line extols 
its virtues to the skies ; while at the same time he declares that 
in an engineering point of view he cannot conceive that any 
difficulty can possibly arise. If a mountain, or a range of 
mountains stands in the way, he penetrates its depths with the 
utmost facility; and gives so eloquent a description of the 
ease with which the work can be accomplished, that the Com- 
mittee almost begin to think that tunnel-making is an elegant 
recreation, or that it is as easy to hammer and blast a route 
through whinstone coeval with the creation, as to thrust a red- 
hot poker through a keg of Irish butter. If a broad river 
opposes the course of the new line, it can quickly be spanned 
by a bridge ; if a valley intervenes, a viaduct can be thrown 
across which shall be as inexpensive as it is durable ; if a series 
of gradients are indispensable, such as have never before been 
attempted, he has already provided against any evil arising 
therefrom, and has, indeed, rendered them a positive benefit ; 
for they are so planned, that the impetus gained in the descent 
of the one incline shall be more than sufficient whichever way 
the train may be going to enable it to ascend the other. In 
short, there never was a line having a greater accumulation of 
positive advantages, and a greater absence of everything to dis- 
courage those connected with it. 

The opposing counsel rises. He has the utmost confidence in 
the ability of his learned friend, but he has on this occasion the 
misfortune to differ from him. The engineers have examined 
the proposed line with the greatest care, and they have shown 
that the route which his friend has selected is, on the whole, the 
most judicious that could have been chosen, this only proves 
how wrong it is to attempt the formation of a line at all; since 
the best is, in effect, impossible. The engineering difficulties 
are extreme ; and though the abilities of his learned friend in 
the advocacy of the scheme are distinguished, yet the cost that 
would be incurred, if it were attempted to be carried out, would 
be ruinous to the shareholders, and the works, if completed, 
most hazardous to the public. How is it possible, he asks with 


confidence, to tunnel through miles of quicksands and basaltic 
rock, which have been obviously arranged by Nature in such 
strata as to prevent any such undertaking ? What engineering 
skill shall be competent to carry an embankment over marshes, 
in comparison with which 

" The great Serbonian bog, 
'Twixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, 
Where armies whole have sunk/' 

sinks into insignificance ? How can the piers of a viaduct be 
properly supported on a quagmire, or a cutting be made through 
a mass of floating mud ? And all this is proposed to be under- 
taken in order to unite two towns which have not two interests 
or commodities in common, except one everlasting feud, which 
may be traced from son to sire back to the time of the Wars of 
the Roses ! On the whole, therefore, he has been driven to the 
deliberate and conscientious conviction, though upon personal 
grounds he should have greatly preferred that it had been other- 
wise, that a more dangerous, impracticable, and worthless line 
has never been submitted to the consideration of Parliament. 

In the same temper the evidence and the witnesses are dealt 
with. An atrabilarious lawyer, whose keen eyes twinkle as he 
thinks he has found a point which will be fatal to his opponent, 
endeavours, "with the voice of an exasperated cockatoo," to 
make the opposing engineer contradict himself; but that gentle- 
man is not to be confused. He is the hero of a hundred com- 
mittees ; he replies with an amiable tranquillity not surpassed 
by that which characterized the illustrious Sam Weller ; and he 
sometimes returns his answers with equally damaging effect. 
If, perchance, he should be close pressed, he occasionally avails 
himself of one safe retreat, and escapes into a thicket of algebra, 
from which he shoots forth a furious volley of arguments and 
terms about the reduction of the horizon, the curvature of the 
surface of the triangle in relation to the ellipticity of the earth ; 
about azimuths and longitudes, sines and cosines, logarithms and 
chord angles, optical squares, box-sextants, zenith distances, 
equatorial axes, and terrestrial arcs, into which neither counsel 
nor members care or dare to follow him ; and fortified with the 
mysteries of his craft, he can defy the universe. 

During that memorable "Railway Session," many an odd 
scene occurred within the walls of committee rooms. The scrip 


of a particular company is running up or down, according to 
the eloquence of the learned counsel or the want of it on either 
side. Business is proceeding listlessly ; one or two members are 
asleep ; others are chatting or comparing the horticultural speci- 
mens in their respective button-holes, while a junior counsel is 
examining some witness who demonstrates that the line may 
cross a particular turnpike without disturbing the equanimity of 
mind of one thistle-browsing donkey, or of one nervous gosling. 
Immediately on his conclusion, a " leader " on the other side ha; 
elbowed his way through the crowd, and, to the horror of the 
junior, starts up and formally announces that he has a proposi- 
tion to make which must settle the whole question, and which is 
at the same time so advantageous to all parties that no objec- 
tion can possibly be urged by the other side. The committee 
discard the flowers and other minor considerations, and listen 
with attention to the proposal ; before it is concluded, the 
affrighted junior has dispatched half a dozen attorney's clerks 
for his leader ; and in reply to the query of the chairman as to 
what he is prepared to say in answer to the unanswerable 
suggestion, he begs permission to wait a few moments. 

One of the messengers has at length found the principal in 
the middle of a speech in reference to another line on the merits 
of which he is descanting. He has, perhaps, just stated that he 
shall now proceed to demonstate the necessity of the line of 
which he is the advocate when a mysterious whisper reaches his 
ear; and, without the alteration of his countenance, he adds, 
' But the case is so clear that it would be altogether a work of 
supererogation to proceed with it ; and I shall therefore leave 
the witnesses in the hands of my learned friend, Mr. So-and-so, 
and beg permission of the committee to withdraw for a few 
minutes. Away he goes ; arrives just in time to save his junior 
from going into a fit of apoplexy ; and having received from him 
certain instructions, he pours forth a torrent of declamation 
against the aforesaid unanswerable proposition, till his presence 
is required elsewhere. 

Of one class of speeches, a description, not excessively over- 
coloured, was given by a writer in Blackw&ocT s Magazine, in 
1845 : "I swear to you, Bogle," he says, "that no later than a 
week ago, I listened to such a picture of Glasgow and the'Clyde 
from the lips of a gentleman eminent alike in law and letters, as 


would have thrown a diorama of Damascus into the shade. He 
had it all, sir, from the orchards of Clydesdale to the banks of 
Bothwell ; the pastoral slopes of Ruglen, and the emerald soli- 
tudes of the Green. The river flowed down towards the sea in 
translucent waves of crystal. From the parapets of the bridge 
you watched the salmon cleaving their way upwards in vivid 
lines of light. Never did Phoebus beam upon a lovelier object 
than the fair suburb of the Gorbals, as seen from the Broomie- 
law, reposing upon its shadow in perfect stillness. Then came 
the forest of masts, the activity of the dockyards, and 

* The impress of shipwrights, whose hard toil 
Doth scarce divide the Sunday from the week.' 

Farther down, the villas of the merchant-princes burst upon 
your view, each of them a perfect Sirmio ; then Port Glasgow, 
half spanned by the arch of a dissolving rainbow ; Dumbarton 
grand and solemn, as became the death-place of the Bruce ; Ben 
Lomond, with its hoary head swathed in impenetrable clouds ; 
and lo ! the ocean and the isles. Not a Glasgow man in the 
committee-room but yearned with love and admiration towards 
the gifted speaker, who certainly did make out a case for the 
Queen of the West, such as no matter-of-fact person could 
possibly have believed. And all this was done by merely sub- 
stituting a Claude Lorraine glass for our ordinary dingy atmo- 
sphere. The outline was most correct and graphic ; but the secret 
lay in the handling and distribution of the colours. I shall not 
wonder if the whole committee, clerk included, come down this 
autumn to catch a glimpse of that terrestrial paradise." 

The reputation acquired by some Parliamentary counsel is of 
decided though not entirely flattering character. One of the 
most eminent of these is Sir B. Denison, Q.C. " His learned 
friend," said Mr. Mereweather on one occasion of Mr. Denison, 
" in private life was as amiable as anybody could desire, but 
before these tribunals he seemed to forget all that gentle manner, 
and there could be no two more distinct persons than Mr. Deni- 
N on, his private friend, and Mr. Denison, his public opponent." 
He was therefore satisfied that in private his learned friend would 
regret having, by a careless expression, trampled upon the dead 
genius of a great man like Mr. Brunei." 

Sir Edward Watkin, speaking before a meeting about a Bill 


in which he was interested, said : " Well, then, we had one of 
those mild and gentlemanly attacks with which Mr. Denison, 
Q.C., honours us at different periods, whenever we do anything 
that he does not approve of. He particularly fell foul of me, 
which he was quite welcome to do, for it might amuse him, and 
did not hurt me. He spoke of my * long-cherished design of 
fixing my claws in the Great Northern.' Well, now, while I 
have always been ready, as you know, that this railway should 
enter into a closer alliance with the Great Northern, I have never 
on any single occasion been the originator of the numerous 
' nibbles ' which the Great Northern has made at this property. 
The Great Northern look at us with that mild and anxious 
benevolence which distinguishes those who wish to enjoy a treat, 
but have not the moral courage to pay the proper price for it. 
But we were told by Mr. Denison that we not merely came for 
the Coal Bill, but to stick our claws into the Great Northern. 
And Mr. Denison being particularly severe upon me, seemed to 
consider that I was the prime conspirator in all these matters. 
Now, I must say that my personal relations with the Great 
Northern, I think, ought to have protected me from any attack, 
from either Mr. Denison or anybody else connected with the 
Great Northern. They surely have not forgotten that it was 
from a nice sense of what was due to you and due to the Great 
Northern that, holding a very profitable appointment at that 
time under your service, I resigned it because I believed, first of 
all, that the agreement made with the Midland was contrary to 
your interests ; and, secondly, because I believed it was contrary 
to good faith with the Great Northern. And such was the 
opinion of the chairman of the Great Northern upon that matter, 
for I remember going to King's Cross to deliver up my ivory 
pass, and being requested by the chairman to receive that pass 
back from his hands, disconnected as I was then from every 
English railway, with a request that I would keep it for life, in 
testimony of the chairman's high opinion of the conduct I had 
always pursued towards the company over which he presided 
Therefore, anybody attacking me on the part of the Great 
Northern reminds me very much of the old story of the turtle 
and the scorpion. Fleeing from a burning wood, the scorpion 
managed to persuade a good-natured turtle to take him upon 
his back and swim with him across a lake and land him on the 


other side in a haven of safety. But the poor unfortunate turtle, 
as he was going across, had a very uncomfortable time of it, for 
the scorpion poked his sting between the scales of the friend who 
was doing him this service. On questioning the reptile, when 
they got to the other side, as to what he meant by such conduct, 
the scorpion replied, c I did not mean to injure you at all ; I 
assure you I have no malice against you ; I am extremely grate- 
ful for what you have done for me, but it is my nature' Well, 
gentlemen, I suppose it is Mr. Denison's nature, and there we 
will leave him." 

It is said that Mr. Denison was once asked why a man of his 
high position and great wealth troubled himself to continue the 
toils of his profession. " Well," he replied, " the doctor says I 
ought, for the good of my health, to take a great deal of amuse- 
ment; and this is the cheapest way in which I can get it." 
And certainly its cheapness can be guaranteed, since, instead of 
costing him anything, it is said to have brought him in busy 
sessions 20,000 to 30,000 a year. 

While the arguments and evidence have thus been advanced 
within the committee-rooms, great efforts have been made " out 
of doors" by the friends of the Bill. If possible, the land- 
owners have been induced to concur in the scheme, and to 
signify their assent thereto. Merchants, manufacturers, and 
tradesmen have been brought from the towns through which the 
intended line will pass, to express their opinion in its favour. 
Objectors to the railroad are conciliated, and opposition even 
" bought off." When landowners have been asked by the 
company if they approved the general design of the proposed 
railway, they have given their answer in the negative, although 
they have privately avowed their anxiety that the railway should 
be made ; and they have admitted that their sole object in 
opposing the line was to obtain from the company a larger sum 
of money for their land. 

The grounds of the opposition made were various. "The 
Trent Valley Railway, when proposed in 1836, was thrown out," 
said Mr. Robert Stephenson, " in consequence of a barn, of the 
value of about 10, which was shown upon the general plan, not 
having been exhibited upon an enlarged sheet. In 1840, the 
line again went before Parliament. It was opposed by the Grand 
Junction Railway Company, and no less than four hundred and 


fifty allegations were made against it. A sub-committee was 
engaged twenty-two days in considering these objections. They 
ultimately reported that four or five of the allegations were 
proved, but the Standing Orders' Committee, nevertheless, al- 
lowed the bill to be proceeded with. Upon the second reading, 
it was supported by Sir Robert Peel, and had a large majority in 
its favour. It then went into committee. The committee took 
sixty-three days to consider it, and ultimately Parliament was 
prorogued before the report could be made. Such were the 
delays and consequent expenses which the forms of the House 
occasioned, that it may be doubted whether the ultimate cost of 
constructing the whole line was very much more than the amount 
expended in obtaining permission from Parliament to make it." 1 

One noble lord had an estate near a proposed line of railway, 
and on this estate a beautiful mansion. Naturally averse to the 
desecration of his home and its neighbourhood, he gave his most 
uncompromising opposition to the Bill, and found, in the com- 
mittees of both Houses, sympathizing listeners. Little did it 
aid the projectors that they urged that the line did not pass 
within six miles of that princely domain ; that the high road 
was much closer to his dwelling ; and that, as the spot nearest 
the house would be passed by means.of a tunnel, no unsightliness 
would arise. But no arguments affected the decision of the 
proprietor, and it was found necessary to appeal to other con- 
siderations. His opposition was ultimately bought off by a 
promise of 200,000, to be paid when the railway reached his 
neighbourhood. Time wore on, funds became scarce, and the 
company decided that it would be best to stop short at a par- 
ticular portion of their line, long before they reached the estate 
of the noble lord. Accordingly, in a second bill they sought to 
be released by Parliament from the obligation of constructing 
that portion of the line which had been so obnoxious. What 
was their surprise at finding this very man their chief opponent, 
and that fresh means had now to be adopted of silencing his 
objections ! 

Other instances may be given. A line had to be brought near 
the property of a certain member of Parliament. It threatened 
no injury to the estate, either by affecting its appearance or its 

1 Address to the Institute of Civil Engineers. 


worth ; on the contrary, it afforded him a cheap and expeditious 
means of communication with the metropolis. But the pro- 
prietor, being a legislator, had power at head-quarters, and by 
his influence he nearly turned the line of railway aside ; and this 
deviation would have cost the projectors the sum of 60,000. 
Now it so happened that the house of this honourable member, 
who had insisted on such costly deference to his views, was 
afflicted with the dry rot, and threatened every hour to fall upon 
his head. To pull down and rebuild it would require the sum 
of 30,000. The idea of a compromise, beneficial to both 
parties, suggested itself. If the railway company rebuilt the 
house, or paid 30,000 to the owner of the estate, and were 
allowed to pursue their original line, it was clear that they 
would be 30,000 the richer, as the enforced deviation would 
cost 60,000 ; and, on the other hand, the owner of the estate 
would obtain a secure house, or receive 30,000 in money. 
The proposed bargain was struck, and 30,000 was paid by 
the company. " How can you live in that house," said some 
friend to him afterwards, " with the railroad coming so near ? " 
" Had it not done so," was the reply, " I could not have lived 
in it at all." * 

Sums of money ranging from 5,ooo to 120,000 were given 
ostensibly for strips of land, but really to purchase consent. In 
one neighbourhood it was found expedient to buy off opposition 
at a price which, under the ordinary calculation of railway 
profits, would oblige the company to raise 15,000 per annum 
of additional tolls. In another case a nobleman demanded 
30,000 as the price of coming across an angle of his estate, 
to which the Company agreed ; but finding afterwards that the 
line could be more conveniently made by slightly changing the 
route, they proposed to do so ; whereupon the nobleman, re- 
luctant to lose the 30,000, threatened them with such powerful 
opposition that it was judged prudent to pay the money, 
although not a foot of the land was touched. In another case, 
a man who had demanded four bridges to connect his property, 
found, after the signing of the agreement, that half the money 
they would cost would be more serviceable to him ; and he 
proposed this as a compromise, which the directors accepted, 

Eraser's Magazine. 


paying him the money in addition to what he had received for 
the land. An account once sent in to the Eastern Counties 
Company may serve as a humble specimen of the demands of 
some tenants. We quote it verbatim : 

1838 To Hy Finch s. 

May A Bridge laid across River for Parth over four Mecldows of 
grass the crops of grass very much beated abought with Men 
and Dogs I have found five large dogs with as many Men in 
the crops at a time almost afrade of being put into the river by 
them ............ 20 o 

When the hay on the cock saclley puled about and spoiled have 
found 3 Men at a time laying in the hay cocks the hay sadlcy 
dameged ...... ..... 10 o 

A horse drove into the river cast and so much drowned as never 

Stood any more .......... 1 5 o 

4 5 and 6 Cows at a time milked, drove from their lodging and 

sadley disturbed ..... , . . . . 52 o 

Removing post and rail fence across the third Meddow earring away 

and laying up .......... 30 

Loss of growing 5 cwt. Cattle Cabbage Seed at 3J. Ib. . . . 84 o 

Loss of 2 Acers for parths 4 years ....... 40 o 

Profit of the 2 acers 4 years ........ 16 o 

Trafick of timber Carriages, Horses, Carts &c., over the 4 meddows 5 o 
Repearing Gates, locks and fences the 4 years ..... 44 

Sloping up hedges to ceap cattle from straying the 4 years . .84 
Garden fence broken, robed and plundered the 4 years . . .20 
Manewer as mendment on the 2 Acers, Land in Spring of 1838 40 

load los. ... ........ 20 o 

The case went into court, occupied ten hours, and the jury 
eventually gave a verdict for 49. 

On one occasion, a trial occurred in which an eminent land- 
valuer was put into the witness-box to swell the amount of 
damages, and he proceeded to expatiate on the injury committed 
by railroads in general, and especially by the one in question, in 
cutting up the properties they invaded. When he had finished 
the delivery of his evidence, the counsel for the Company put 
a newspaper into his hand, and asked him whether he had not 
inserted a certain advertisement therein. The fact could not be 
denied, and the advertisement proved to be a declaration by the 
land-valuer himself, that the approach of the railway would 
prove exceedingly beneficial to some property in its imrrfediate 
vicinity, then on sale. 



An illustration of the difference between the exorbitant 
demands made by parties for compensation, and the real value 
of the property, may be mentioned. The first claim made by 
the directors of the Glasgow Lunatic Asylum on the Edinburgh 
and Glasgow Railway is stated to have been no less than 44,000. 
Before the trial came on, this sum was reduced to 10,000 ; the 
amount awarded by the jury was 873. In another case only 
one-fiftieth of the amount demanded by the owner of land was, 
by arbitration, finally awarded. 

The opposition thus made, whether feigned or real, it was 
always advisable to remove; and sums of 35,000, 40,000, 
50,000, 100,000, and 120,000 have thus been paid. An 
honourable member is said to have received 30,000 to withdraw 
his opposition to a Bill before the House; and "not far off the 
celebrated year 1845, a lady of title, so gossips talk, asked a 
certain nobleman to support a certain Bill, stating that, if he did, 
she had the authority of the secretary of a great company to 
inform him that fifty shares in a certain railway, then at a 
considerable premium, would be at his disposal. This, of course, 
is no bribery ; but we wonder whether it explains the reason of 
some people having so many friends in Parliament."* Excep- 
tions there have been to this spirit. It was of such that Sir 
Robert Peel spoke, when, on turning the first sod of the Trent 
Valley line, he said to its directors : " I assure them that there 
are many persons in this neighbourhood who have not scrupled 
to sacrifice private feeling and comfort, by consenting to their 
land being appropriated to the Trent Valley Railway. They 
have given that consent from a conviction that this undertaking 
was one conducive to the public benefit, and that considerations 
of private interest should not obstruct the great one of the 
public good." 

One pleasing circumstance, highly honourable to the gentle- 
man concerned, must not be omitted. The late Mr. Labouchere 
had made an agreement with the Eastern Counties Company 
for a passage through his estate, near Chelmsford, for the price 
of 35,000 : his son and successor, the Right Honourable Henry 
Labouchere, finding that the property was not deteriorated to 
the anticipated extent, voluntarily returned 15,000. The Duke 

* Herapattts Journal, 


ot Bedford, also, after the lapse of many years, returned 
150,000 paid for land taken by a railway, on the ground that 
his estate was benefited, and that no compensation was due. 

The cost of purchasing land, and for compensation, has been 
stated by Mr. Laing, in a paper appended to the evidence given 
by him before a select Parliamentary committee on railways, as 
follows : 

Newcastle and Carlisle Railway . . . ^2,200 per mile. 
Grand Junction .;.... 3,000 

South Western 4,000 

Manchester and Leeds 6,150 

London and Birmingham, and Great Western . 6,300 

while, on three other lines, the expenditure has averaged 
14,000 per mile. "There can be no doubt," says Mr. Noble, 
" that, in every instance, the price claimed and paid, either by 
agreement or under award, has been largely in excess of the 
actual value of the property sold, notably so in the case of 
railways ; although it is impossible for a railway to be con- 
structed through an estate without largely increasing its value, 
enormous claims have been made, and allowed, as compensation 
for imaginary injuries." Mr. Laing estimated that the waste of 
capital incurred in this country, under the head of land and 
compensation, amounted to more than two millions and a half 
sterling, a sum immensely augmented since. 

The practice of buying off opposition has not been confined 
to the proprietors of land. We learn from one of the Parlia- 
mentary reports, that in a certain district, a pen and ink warfare 
between two rival companies ran so high, and was, at least on 
one side, rewarded with such success, that the friends of the 
older of the projected lines thought it expedient to enter into 
treaty with their literary opponent, and its editor soon retired 
on a fortune. It is also asserted that in a midland county, the 
facts and arguments of an editor were wielded with such vigour, 
that the opposing company found it necessary to adopt extra- 
ordinary means on the occasion. Bribes were offered, but 
refused ; an opposition paper was started, but its conductors 
quailed before the energy of their opponent ; every scheme that 
ingenuity could devise, and money carry out, was attempted, 
but they successively and utterly failed. At length a director 
hit on a Machiavelian plan he was introduced to the pro 


prietor of the journal, whom he cautiously informed that he 
wished to risk a few thousands in newspaper property, and 
actually induced his unconscious victim to sell the property, 
unknown to the editor. When the bargain was concluded, the 
plot was discovered ; but it was then too late, and the wily 
director took possession of the copyright of the paper and the 
printing-office, on behalf of the Company. The services of the 
editor, however, were not to be bought : he refused to barter 
away his independence, and he retired, taking with him the 
respect of friends and foes, 

In speaking of the subject of compensation generally, Mr. 
Venables, Q.C., in 1873, remarked: "I remember hearing an 
agent of the Duke of Newcastle give evidence that the duke 
could ride on his land twenty-four miles straight on end. How 
could a railway be made in such a country if it does not go 
through his estate ? The park of Clumber alone consists of 
upwards of 4,000 acres, which is something of a protection to 
the house. I remember perfectly well when there was a ball 
at Clumber in the dead of winter, a great many of the visitors 
left somewhere about four or six o'clock in the morning, and 
they drove about in the park till daylight at eight o'clock, not 
being able to find their way out of it. That park alone is a 
tolerable protection to the privacy of the house. When people 
are on a very great scale, it is just like a very stout man not 
being able to get through a hole as well as a slimmer man 
a very big duke cannot get about the country without being 
interfered with by those who must necessarily claim the right 
to cross his territory. 

" Then our opponents give in detail the cases of severance of 
the duke and his tenants. There is no doubt they will all be 
fully compensated. There are farmers some of whose farms we 
traverse, and how can an estate of enormous magnitude 34,000 
acres expect that there shall be no railway across it. And if 
railways come across they will cut up the fields ; and when rail- 
ways do so, it always happens that the fields are cut off from 
the farm-house at exactly the very part of the farm that it is 
particularly important they should not be cut off. But, in fact, 
they will not be cut off, for there will be all sorts of crossings and 
bridges and accommodation works of some kind ; and every 
one knows that though railways look so shocking before they 


are made, when they are made people get exceedingly well used 
to them. The people will have their money, and with their 
money they will be very happy, and will no longer think about 
any grievance connected with the railway." 

At length the arguments and witnesses before the Parlia- 
mentary Committees, in reference to the proposed line, are con- 
cluded ; and, after due deliberation, a decision has to be made. 
It would be unreasonable to expect that this should always be in 
accordance with wisdom ; it is indisputable that in some instances 
grievous and irreparable errors have been committed. In the 
case of the Brighton line, of the three brought before the Com- 
mittee, it is declared that the worst, and the shortest by only a 
trifling distance, was selected. One route was proposed, which, 
passing through a natural gap in the hills, avoided the necessity 
of tunnelling, and the outlay and inconvenience consequent 

The decision of a Committee is at last about to be announced, 
and on more than one occasion we have been present at the 
critical moment. One day we were only just in time. We had 
been busy all the morning, and were now seated in one of the 
voluptuous chairs in the magnificent " Reading-Room " of the 
" Midland Grand " at St. Pancras, rewarding our industry by a 
leisurely scanning of the papers, when, as the clock in the tower 
solemnly boomed forth the half-hour past three, we remembered 
that that was about the time at which a certain Commons- Com- 
mittee were expected to pronounce its decision on a railway 
measure which the Midland Company had projected. We 
dropped our paper with so much more precipitancy than de- 
corum that an old gentleman looked up with astonishment, and 
gazed at us over his spectacles as if he had a vague impression 
that we had suddenly gone out of 'our mind ; and, hieing our 
way over the rich and noiseless carpets of the, corridor and stair- 
case, were soon in eager colloquy with a hansom cabman. 

" Palace Yard in fifteen minutes ! " we exclaimed. 

"Can't do it," he replied. "Taint worth while; break the 
knees of a thirty-pound horse, and get summoned for furious ! 
Taint worth it, for half a crown," he added in a deprecatory 
and persuasive tone. 

" Well, then, as quick as you can." 

The three-quarters was struck by Big Ben as we rounded the 


curve from Trafalgar Square into Parliament Street, and in about 
four minutes more we walked briskly up beneath the majestic 
roof of Westminster Hall, and then on through the corridors and 
lobbies to the Commons Committee-rooms. Here we found 
a throng of eager railway agents, eminent railway officials, and 
be-wigged and be-robed counsel, learned in railway law, pass- 
ing in and out of the Committee-rooms like bees clustering 
around a row of hives. Earnest deliberations were going on in 
subdued voices, for unexpected contingencies had at the last 
moment to be provided for ; new complications of railway diplo- 
macy had to be adjusted ; a new departure had to be arranged, 
or a concession agreed upon ; and there was an anxious look 
upon many a face which the light chat or occasional raillery of 
friend or foe could scarcely conceal. And no wonder : for on 
the skill or resource, or want of it, of the next few days, or even 
hours, the destiny of a trade or a town, and the fate of perhaps 
a million of money would be determined. 

We were just in time, and only just. The case had ended ; 
the Committee-room had been cleared, and as we entered the 
decision was about to be pronounced. For a moment there was 
a pause, and we had time to glance around. The noble apart- 
ment was crowded by an eager throng. The windows, with 
their stone mullions, looked out on the quiet river, and across to 
the opposite shore to the stately piles of St. Thomas's Hospital. 
The walls of the room, from ceiling to floor, were occupied by 
gigantic maps, whereon sundry railway lines were marked upon 
them in various colours. Across the middle of the room was a 
" bar," immediately within which another " bar " had just taken 
their seats ; to their right and left were directors and officials 
connected with the case ; in front were the chair and table of the 
shorthand writer, who sat pencil in hand ; and also the chair 
and table recently occupied by the witnesses ; while beyond, and 
of course facing the counsel, were the five members of Parlia- 
ment upon whose decision, so far as one estate of the realm was 
concerned, rested the fate of the Bill. They are seated, as is 
their wont, covered. A question is asked by the chairman con- 
cerning the bearing of a certain clause ; a learned counsel, in 
a sharp, rapid, conversational way, replies ; and a sentence by 
way of rejoinder is uttered by a portly counsel on the other side. 
" Who are they ? " we whispered to a lawyer's clerk who stood 


beside us in the throng. " That's Ursa Major," he answered, 
pointing covertly to the former speaker ; " splendid man, dread- 
fully clever, but a bear." " And who is the other counsel ? " 
" Oh, that's the Busy Bee," he continued ; and so we came to 
learn that, even within the arena of law and in the High Court 
of Parliament itself, pleasantries abound. 

The critical moment has come. Every sound is hushed ; and 
all eyes are turned towards the chairman, as pausing for a mo- 
ment, as if to add to the suspense, he slowly says : "I am directed 


to state that the Committee are of opinion that the preamble of 
the Bill is proved, and to report to the House accordingly." 

The Committee rise, and immediately the throng breaks up. 
It is a Midland Bill, and Midland people are strongly repre- 
sented. The chairman, Mr. Ellis, comes from his seat within 
the bar, looking as courteous and as resolute .as ever. Mr. 
Allport, whose tall figure might a moment before have been 
seen bending eagerly forward as he awaited the fate of his 
policy, walks out into the corridor with a sunny smile on his 
face ; while his then chief secretary, who follows him, playfully 
parries the thrust which some humorous competitor has levelled 


at him. Counsel, agents, and officials hustle one another in 
their flight down the staircase, and as we cross the lobby and 
hear the great clock bell sound four, we learn that " Mr. Speaker 
i.s at prayers." 

On tjie occasion of the decision being given on the London 
and York eventually the Great Northern Railway, which was 
fought through the Committees of both Houses with special 
perseverance and acrimony, the moment that it was pronounced 
there were shouts from stentorian lungs of " Bravo ! hurra ! " 
accompanied by the stamping of feet and umbrellas, and then 
a general fight for the door, at which a fearful struggle took 
place. The confusion was complete, and after repeated demands 
for " Order," which were utterly ineffectual, the chairman could 
only give expression to his indignation by declaring that the 
conduct of those present was " exceedingly indecent." 

The announcement thus made has sometimes been rendered 
useful to parties interested. One darts away, perhaps by 
special means he has provided for the purpose, and succeeds 
in selling or buying on 'Change a lot of shares, during the five 
minutes that intervene before the arrival of the intelligence ; 
and is thus enabled, at the expense of others, to save himself 
from the loss he would otherwise have incurred, or to make a 
handsome profit on the strength of his early information. 

Of the labour, intellectual and physical, to which honourable 
members were exposed in the interminable discussions of the 
" Railway Session," the reader will already have some idea. 
Flesh and blood might well revolt at the task. How would it be 
possible for them to enter .with vigour on the great public 
questions of the day ! It has been remarked, that if, after three 
days' patient hearing of the witnesses and lawyers on some of 
these conflicting interests, a Committee-man had one tangible 
idea floating in his head, he must have been either an Alcibi- 
ades or a Bavius a heaven-born genius, or the incarnation of a 

The sanction of the Legislature thus obtained empowers 
\he Company to take possession of a width of land for the 
line, inclusive of that needed for giving the necessary inclina- 
tions to the sides of cuttings or embankments. The require- 
ments of the Government on railways are enforced under 
the supervision of a department of the Board of Trade. No 


new line can be opened without the previous inspection, and 
certificate of approval, of the Inspector, who is, however, not 
responsible for the capability of the works to fulfil the duty to 
be required of them. All accidents must be reported to this 
department of the Board of Trade within forty-eight hours 
of their occurrence. 

The dimensions to which Railway Acts sometimes extended 
were enormous. Subsequently, however, a Railway Clauses 
Consolidation Act was passed, with a view to the diminution of 
these difficulties, and of the expense consequent thereon. 

The expenditure incurred in procuring legislative authority to 
construct railways has been, in many cases, scarcely credible. 
While the parliamentary, surveying, and engineering costs of 
the Kendal and Windermere Company amounted to little more 
than two per cent, on the total outlay of the railway,, we are 
assured that the parliamentary costs of the 

Brighton Railway averaged . . . .4,806 per mile. 
Manchester and Birmingham . . SjiQo 
Blackwall 14,414 

The Brighton line had to contend with three or four other Com- 
panies during two successive sessions, and when its Bill was 
before the Committee, the expense of counsel and witnesses was 
stated at 1,000 daily, extending over fifty days. The London 
and Birmingham line escaped much of this cost by coming 
earlier into the field ; but the parliamentary and surveyors' ex- 
penses even then amounted to 72,000, a reproach on a 
system of legislation that permits impediments to be thrown in 
the way of works of great public use. It is also affirmed that 
" the solicitor's bill of the South-Eastern Railway contained ten 
thousand folios, occupied twelve months in taxation before the 
Master, and amounted to 240,000." One Company had to 
fight so hard for their Bill, that they found, when at length they 
reached the last stage that of receiving the Royal assent that 
their preliminary undertakings had cost nearly half a million of 
money, a sum which had been expended in merely acquiring 
the privilege of making a railway, and the interest of which has 
now to be paid by the passengers and goods that travel thereon. 
Of the cost of projects which were ultimately unsuccessful, a 
single illustration may be given. In the celebrated battle of the 


Stone and Rugby Railway, the inquiry continued during sixty- 
six sitting-days, from February to August, 1839, and, having 
been renewed in the following year, the Bill was finally defeated 
at an expense to its promoters of 146,000. The capriciousness 
of Parliamentary tribunals may be shown by the following 
facts : Six Bills rejected by the Commons in 1844 were passed 
in the following year on precisely the same evidence. Of 
eighteen Bills rejected in 1845, seven were passed unaltered in 
1846. Of six Bills thrown out by Committees of the House of 
Lords in 1845, four were adopted by other Committees in 1846. 
Much as it is to be regretted that costs so enormous have 
been incurred in the construction of railways, it must be ad- 
mitted that, in many instances, the Companies are less to be 
blamed than pitied, as the victims of systematic and determined 
extortion. In favourable situations, English lines have been 
made at the rate of 10,000 per mile. One of these, the North- 
ampton and Peterborough branch, about forty-seven miles in 
length, was constructed at a cost of 429,409 ; and the York 
and Scarborough, forty-two miles, was made at an average of 
6,000 per mile. Some single lines have cost, for land and 
everything, not more than 5,000 a mile, the undertakings 
being promoted by land proprietors whose interest was in 
economy. Of cheap Scotch lines, the Peebles branch of the 
North British is an illustration. 




Commencement of a Railway. Turning First Sod. The Ceremony. 
Bedford and Bletchley Line. Difficulties in the Construction of Rail- 
ways. Gradients. Theoretical and Practical Considerations. Undu- 
lating and Level Lines. The Desborough Bank. Special Precautions. 
The High Peak Railway. The Lickey Incline. Spragging and Skid- 
ding. The Righi Incline. The Fell Line over Mont Cenis. Working 
of this Line. Curves. The Great Horse- shoe Curve. Commencement 
of Works. Making Cuttings. Making the Running. Angle of Repose. 
Illustrations. Retaining Walls. Ditches and Drains. The Great 
Enemy of Cuttings. The Road-bed. Crest Ditches and Spade Drains. 
Embankments. The Haslingden Cutting. Three Remarkable Cut- 
tings. Vicissitudes. A Terrible Storm. Slips. Chemical Combina- 
tion of Soils. Precautions. Covering the Slopes of Cuttings. 

the actual commencement of a great 
undertaking special interest is usually 
taken, and time-honoured customs are 
observed. So with a new railway. The 
noble and the peasant, the philosopher 
and the schoolboy, the poet and the 
ploughman, consider "the turning of the 
first sod " of a new line an occasion of 
moment. And though some may have 
capacity or inclination to look only to 
the benefits which may, perhaps, accrue 
to themselves from the undertaking, others 
will think of social, commercial, and na- 
tional interests that are involved, and 
rejoice in an era in which science and 
art have lent such aids to the pros- 
perity and happiness of man. 

On such an occasion, there is usually an assemblage of the 
people of the neighbourhood, and of navvies " in their best." 
A marquee, for the accommodation of the Directors and the 

The initial letter depicts Olive Mount Cutting. 


visitors specially invited, is provided ; and at the appointed time 
appear the leading gentry of the county and neighbourhood, in 
their carriages, on horseback, or on foot. A procession has 
sometimes been formed accompanied by a band of music ; and 
the company then form into a circle round the spot where 
the first sod is to be dug. The chairman, of course, delivers an 
eloquent address, consisting of popularized selections of the 
prospectus which had been issued ; and he informs his enlight- 
ened auditory of the benefits that the line will confer on the 
neighbourhood ; and perhaps intimates, as did Mr. D. Salomons, 
at the commencement of the Reading, Guildford, and Reigate 
line, that it may attract around it a population large enough 
to claim the privilege of representation in the Commons' House 
of Parliament. 

The assistant-engineer then presents to the chairman a hand- 
some spade of polished mahogany, with a silver blade ; and a 
wheelbarrow, of similar materials and elegant design, is brought 
upon the scene. The spade is struck into the ground and the 
barrow filled, amidst the cheers of the assembly. The contents 
are trundled along a plank, and then emptied. Other gentlemen 
go through a similar process ; the company then proceed to do 
honour to the occasion in the true John Bull style, of " having 
something to eat," and move off to the marquee erected on the 
grounds, where a dejeilner has been duly prepared. The navi- 
gators who are present, and who are to aid in carrying out the 
work thus auspiciously commenced, retire to a similar scene of 
operations, where roast beef and plum pudding are plentifully 

The commencement of the Bedford and Bletchley line was 
an exception to the ordinary proceedings on such occasions, 
the ceremony being performed by Her Grace the Duchess of 
Bedford. The duke had engaged to preside, but was suddenly 
summoned to the metropolis on public business ; and, to avoid 
disappointment, the duchess, assisted by Lord Alford, consented 
to officiate. Her grace was accompanied to the ground by the 
railway directors, and other officials, and by many members 
of the principal families in the county. A salute of cannon and 
a band of music greeted her arrival ; and the Chairman of the 
Company having made a few preliminary observations, handed 
her grace the spade, and requested her to do honour to the 


proceedings by commencing the works. Acknowledging the 
compliment, she pressed the spade into the earth ; and Lord 
Alford, having addressed the company, threw off his great coat 
and hat, and, amidst the cheers of the bystanders, filled the 
barrow. The barrow was of beautifully-grained oak from the 
Woburn estate, and was richly ornamented with silver. His 
lordship then wheeled the barrow along the platform, and led 
the way to the marquee which had been erected. After several 
toasts had been drunk, the duchess entered her carriage amid 
the cheers of the people and the report of cannon, taking with 
her, at the request of the contractors, the barrow and spade with 
which the work had been performed. 

It is now necessary for the engineer to complete his plans, 
if he has not already done so, for the intended railway. The 
various works are perhaps indicated by the accompanying dia- 
gram. The gradients must accordingly be determined with 

reference to the amount of the earth-works ; for, if the line were 
constructed at too low an average level, there would be a super- 
abundance of material, from the cuttings being disproportion- 
ately deep and extensive ; while, if it were so carried too high, 
a large amount of soil would have to be conveyed, at great cost, 
from various places off the line to construct the embankments 
The chief object, therefore, is to have just enough earth-work to 
remove from the cuttings to form the embankments ; and just 
enough embankment to use up the material from the cuttings. 

The execution of the works is seldom in the hands of the 
actual executive of the company. Railway directors are usually 
connected with city life, perhaps unacquainted with the details 
of the matters over which they have the supreme authority ; and 
are really capable of conducting only the general administration 
of the company. Contracting for railway making has thus 
become a great business ; and experienced and wealthy men 
will undertake the completion of the entire works of a long line. 
Meanwhile the chief engineer has appointed his own staff of 


agents to superintend the work as performed by the contractors. 
Over each portion of from thirty to fifty miles a " Resident " is 
aided by inspectors of the earth-works, masonry, mining, and 
of permanent way, each with a special district under his obser- 
vation, the chief contractors perhaps sub-let the different works 
to sub-contractors, giving the earth-works to one, the masonry 
to another, and the ballasting to a third ; and sometimes the 
sub-contractors again let out lesser portions to those who may be 
called sub-sub-contractors. The last make their arrangements 
with various individuals for what are designated " little jobs," in 
which are included the cartage of bricks, rails, or sleepers, for 
given distances, and for the hire or feed of horses. 

A chief characteristic of a railway is the uniformity of surface 
secured by its construction. The increased power of locomo- 
tives has, indeed, of late, permitted a much nearer approach to 
the natural form of the earth in the formation of lines than was 
before admissible ; and vast cost in construction has been thus 
avoided. But every economy in construction may mean costli- 
ness in working. It may seem, indeed, at first sight that a 
small elevation is of little moment. A rise of a foot in three 
or four hundred does not seem difficult to be reached ; but one 
in a hundred does not only mean one inch in a hundred, but 
one mile in a hundred ; that is to say, the traveller, in running 
on such a gradient a distance less than that between London and 
Birmingham, would reach a perpendicular elevation of a mile. 

It used to be said that to mount a gradient of i in 300 
required a tractive force nearly twice as great as was sufficient 
to move the same load at an equal speed along a level line ; 
and it was affirmed that to ascend an elevation of thirty feet 
demanded as great a power as would suffice to propel an equal 
weight along a mile of level railway. These computations have, 
however, undergone important modification through the enor- 
mous improvements made in the power of locomotives ; and 
engineers have been able to conduct lines through districts 
which a few years since were declared to be impassable. So 
important were these advances that, even as early as 1845, the 
Report of the Board of Trade said, that " such gradients as were 
before thought objectionable are now adopted every day as a 
matter of course ; and as the capabilities of the locomotive have 
been enlarged, gradients of a class which would have been, a 


few years ago, altogether impracticable, have come into general 

The ascents made by means of a gradual inclination are 
sometimes considerable, and when it is remembered that what 
is lost in the upward journey is, in a great measure, gained in the 
descent by trains coming from the opposite quarter, it must not 
be regarded as altogether a loss of power. Many of our readers 
who have travelled from London on the Birmingham line, would 
be surprised to be informed, when they reached Tring, which is 
thirty-two miles from London, that they have ascended a perpen- 
dicular height of about three hundred and thirty feet since they 
left Euston Square, and that they are four hundred and twenty 
feet above the level of the sea. Yet many minor inclines have 
been ascended and descended on that journey. 

Gradients constantly vary, and vary considerably as we may 
see by the finger-boards placed on the lines for the guidance 
of the engine-driver, that tell us now that we are ascending at 
the rate of one in 296, and then again we are descending at one 
in a 100. Thus some parts of the inclined plane between Euston 
and Camden stations rise at the rate of one in sixty-six and 
one in seventy-five ; that by which the Manchester and Leeds 
Railway is connected with the Victoria Station, at Manchester, 
descends at the ratio of one in fifty-nine for about 1000 yards, 
and one in forty-nine for 640 yards ; and that by which the line 
from Edinburgh is conducted into Glasgow, has a slope of one 
in forty-two, for a distance of a mile and a quarter. Though, 
with heavy trains and " greasy " weather, an additional engine 
may be required, locomotives are exclusively employed. The 
Lickey incline, on the Birmingham and Gloucester line, has a 
gradient of one in thirty-seven and a-half, for a length of more 
than two miles. 

It was long contended that the only proper principle upon 
which to lay out a railway was, to secure as near an approxima- 
tion as possible to a level surface; for though it involved a 
larger original outlay, it afforded the best means of satisfactorily 
working them when completed. On the other hand, it is main- 
tained that lines formed on a series of undulations are equally 
advantageous with those that are perfectly level, because the 
impetus acquired in descending would be equivalent to tljat lost 
in mounting the inclines. The "undulating theory," as it may 


be styled, would, according to some, work well if applied in the 
form of a series of severe gradients, varying from thirty to forty 
feet a mile ; and the North Union Railway, from Parkside to 
Preston, has been cited in illustration, five miles of which out 
of twenty-two have gradients of one in a hundred, yet it is worked 
at less expense than some more uniform lines. 

The London and Birmingham Railway may be regarded as 
an illustration of the uniform system. It was constructed on 
the principle of obtaining the most perfect level for the purpose 
of economic working, the amount of original outlay being a 
secondary consideration. The ordinary gradient never exceeds 
one in three hundred and thirty, with the exception of the Eus- 
ton and Camden incline, which was intended to be worked, and 
for some years was worked, by stationary engines. 

When a railway has to be carried over a considerable elevation, 
the question has arisen whether the rise and fall should be dis- 
tributed, or whether the gradients should be concentrated in a 
few steep planes. The latter course was adopted on the Liver- 
pool and Manchester Railway. The main line has no slope 
exceeding one in eight hundred and forty-nine, with the excep- 
tion of two inclined planes, each of about a mile and a half in 
length, near Rainhill, where the ascent is one in eighty-nine and 
one in ninety-six, and where passing trains used to have the aid 
of an auxiliary engine. Similar means are adopted to overcome 
the Euston incline, on reaching the summit of which, at Camden, 
the pilot engine is detached. 

When the South Western Line was undertaken, this subject 
had a thorough investigation, The project for this line was 
opposed in Parliament by the Great Western Railway Company 
and one of the grounds of opposition involved the question of 
gradients. The Great Western line was laid out so as to be 
almost a dead level over nearly one hundred and twenty miles, 
the only important inclination being arranged within a very 
short space, by means of two gradients, one of which is a very 
steep ascent. The London and South Western Railway, on 
the other hand, has long steep gradients, and enormous earth- 
works, though it has none of the gigantic viaducts, bridges, or 
tunnels to be found on some lines. Lichfield is the summit 
level, being nearly four hundred feet above the termini at Lon- 
don and Southampton. One of the gradients extends from 


Lichfield tunnel, fifty-four miles from London, for a distance of 
seventeen miles, and is one in two hundred and fifty. It was 
indeed stated by the first engineer, who laid out the line, in his 
Report to the Parliamentary Committee, that the aggregate of 
the earthworks between London and Southampton would be 
sixteen million cubic yards a mass sufficient to form a pyramid 
having a base of 150,000 square yards, and a thousand feet in 
height. The length and steepness of the gradient was principally 
occasioned by the extraordinary height of the ridge of country 
which runs east and west through Hampshire near the middle 
of the line, and which it was necessary to cross. 

The line was laid out so as to undulate with a series of gra- 
dients, the prevailing one being at the rate of one in two hundred 
and fifty, or about twenty feet a mile. It was on the propriety 
of this arrangement that a contest took place before a Com- 
mittee of the House of Lords ; and Dr. Lardner was employed 
by the London and South Western Company to ascertain so 
far as could be done by theory and experiment what would be 
the probable effects of such an undulating line on the moving 

It was argued by the friends of the flat gradients of the Great 
Western, that such a line as the projected South Western would 
be worked under disadvantages so enormous, owing to the 
resistance of the gradients, that it would be wiser to select an- 
other, if circuitous course, but thereby securing a nearly level 
line. A portion of the Great Western itself could form part of 
such a circuitous route ; and thus the theory expounded and the 
interests of the opposing Company were made to coincide. Dr. 
Lardner, in reply, contended that upon the undulating line there 
would be a compensating power in descending the slopes, which 
would to a great extent balance the disadvantages in ascending 
them ; that in a journey backwards and forwards on such a line, 
the expenditure of power would not be materially greater than 
upon a dead level; that the average speed would not be much 
less, although in the course of the complete journey it would be 
much more variable ; that on the ascending gradients the engine 
would have to overcome a greater resistance, to expend more 
power, and to move more slowly, but that this loss would be to 
a great extent made up in the descending gradients, where the 
resistance would be less considerable and tjie speed higher. 



This theory for experience had not then established it was 
fiercely attacked and ridiculed ; but it prevailed : the Bill for the 
South Western Company was obtained, the line was constructed, 
and it has been worked with great success. 

Some years ago we were travelling by the 8.40 Midland train 
from Nottingham to London. After passing Market Harborough 
and approaching Desborough, the speed of the train slackened. 
" We are going very slowly," remarked one of the company. 
" What can be the reason ? " said another. " The signals must 
be against us," said a third. " No, that isn't the cause," we 
interposed. " We're going slowly because of the Crimean war !" 
Our friends laughed at the seeming paradox ; but it was true. 
When the Leicester and Bedford line was projected the country 
was at the height of the Russian war. Money was dear, men 
were difficult to get, and the Midland shareholders could not be 
persuaded to provide more than a million of money with which 
to construct a line sixty miles long. " Now, Charles Liddell 
and John Crossley," said old John Ellis (and John Crossley told 
us this story), " there are ^"900,000 to make your line with. If 
it can't be done for that, it can't be done at all. So you must 
put all your fine notions into your pockets and go and do it for 
15,000 a mile. And then there is the rolling stock to find." 
" It took," Mr. Crossley said, " a great deal of scraping to get it 
done ; and the Desborough bank had to be left as it is to-day, 
rising fifty feet a mile for four miles, and falling fifty feet a mile 
for four miles more, and all because of the hardness of the war- 
times and the shortness of money and of men when the line was 
made." Nearly two hundred and fifty trains every day toil 
slowly up one slope or the other of that incline ; and all 
the loss and cost incurred are part of the penalties still paid, 
and for long years will have to be paid, for one of the many 
needless and heedless wars in which England has been engaged. 
To avoid the daily delay and expense of this bank was one of 
the reasons why the Midland Company have opened their new 
route to London via Kettering, and to avoid another similar 
bank made at the same time as that at Desborough, between 
Irchester and Sharnbrook have recently constructed a devia- 
tion line on a better level and through a tunnel somewhat 
farther east. It re-unites with the old line near Sharnbrook 


The heavy inclines on one railway in England have for many 
years been worked by a curious combination of locomotive and 
stationary engines. The High Peak Railway in Derbyshire was 
at one time one of the great thoroughfares of England. Travel- 
lers and merchandise came on to it from the Manchester district 
down to the Cromford Canal, and thence by the various naviga- 
tions of the Erewash valley and the Soar to Leicester and the 
South. But these arrangements have been superseded, and a 
friend of the writer recently told his experiences in one of the 
last journeys taken by passengers on the High Peak Railway. 

"It was in August, 1877," ne sa id, "and thinking I should 
like to see the country through which it passed, I went to Stone- 
house, generally called 'Stonnis,' just by the Black Rocks, where 
the railway crosses the Wirksworth Road, and inquired of a 
man in the office for the train. ' Do you mean the " fly " ? ' was 
the reply. 'Yes.' But the official not knowing whether the ' fly ' 
had passed or not, went out to inquire, and brought back word 
that it had gone, but that if I followed it up the line, I might 
catch it at the siding ; and if not, I should be sure to overtake 
it at * Middleton Run.' I accordingly gave chase, and at length 
caught sight of it being drawn up the incline by a rope and a 
stationary engine. A man at the bottom inquired if I wished to 
catch the ' fly,' and added, ' I will stop ' it for you at the top,' 
which he did by a signal. A quarter of a mile ahead I joined it. 
My fellow-travellers were then a young woman and a child, and 
the vehicle in which we sat was like an old omnibus. The guard 
stood in the middle and worked the brake through a hole in the 
floor. A locomotive now drew us three or four miles to the foot 
of another incline, up which .we were, drawn by a rope. When 
reaching the summit the guard remarked : * We may have to 
wait at the top.' ' How long ? ' I inquired. ' Oh, it may be 
five minutes,' he replied, ' or a few hours. It all depends upon 
when the engine comes to take us on. Yesterday/ he added, 
'it did not come at all.' To while away the time I walked 
along the line, and my fellow-passengers went mushrooming. 
In about three hours an engine came from Whaley Bridge to 
fetch us, and after the driver, fireman, and guard had refreshed 
themselves at a little public-house not far away, and had freely 
commented on their 'horse,' they went back along Che line, 
brought up the ' fly,' and having refreshed themselves again, we 


started. At one part of the journey a flock of sheep were quietly 
feeding or resting on the line. ' Just see them,' said the guard 
as we approached, 'jump the walls;' and they did it like dogs. 
We reached Park Gates, about a mile from Buxton, at seven 
o'clock, after a journey of about twenty miles, in six hours. Not 
long after my journey, a traveller on this line was killed, and 
the Company decided to close it against passenger traffic. The 
High Peak may be seen as it joins the Midland Railway on the 
western side of the line in a wood a little north of Whatstand- 
well station. Its summit level is 1,254 feet above the sea." 

The existence of steep inclines involves the adoption of 
special precautions. Before the descent begins, care must be 
taken by the driver to have his engine well under command ; 
and additional brake vans may have to be attached to the trains. 
The Lickey Incline, on the Birmingham and Bristol section of 
the Midland Railway is one of the steepest on a through main 
line, and its successful administration for so many years reflects 
the greatest credit on the gentleman under whose charge it has 
long been. It is not simply that the gradient is steep, but that 
the condition of the rails and the power of the brakes to act 
upon them may, in a few minutes be changed. A fall of snow 
or a shower of rain has so altered the " bite " of the wheels that, 
whereas the control was complete, the wheels now glide over 
the glass-like surface almost or entirely uncontrolled ; and, in 
years gone by, a heavy mineral train has been known, with 
all its brakes on, and its wheels "spragged," to sweep unhindered 
down the incline through the Bromsgrove station, and to run 
a mile and more away along the flat line at the foot before its 
course could be arrested. At night, too, the sight has sometimes 
been strange. The wheels being " spragged," and not turning, 
of course the particular part that pressed on the rail became 
hotter and hotter, so hot as to throw off fibres and flakes of 
molten metal twisted into all conceivable forms, and every 
wheel sent out a blaze of heat and light so as almost to make 
the train appear to be on fire. " I have seen," said a gentleman 
to the writer, " tons of bits of metal, that have thus been burned 
off the old iron tires, lying on the ballast of the Lickey Incline." 
Still, despite these difficulties, Mr. Stalvies, the Midland engi- 
neer at Bromsgrove, has carried on the traffic, not only with- 
out accident, but in so orderly a manner that the main local and 


mineral trains pass up and down with perfect regularity and 
success. We may add that the wheels are now never, as 
formerly, allowed to "skid." It is found that to allow them 
to move slowly round is to secure a firmer bite upon the rail 
than if they were at rest. The spirit in which Mr. Stalvies has 
discharged the duties of his office may be illustrated by a remark 
he once made to a friend : " I believe," he said, " if an accident 
did happen at the Lickey, it would kill me." Pilot engines 
have, of course, to be used to assist the trains in ascending the 
Lickey, but the heaviest trains are the mineral that descend it 
in going to the west. 

The steepest and highest incline on any railway in Europe 
is that which ascends the Righi Mountains near Lucerne, in 
Switzerland. It is designed to convey passengers to the top 
of the mountain, from which there is a view so celebrated as to 
attract large numbers of visitors. Hitherto the only means 
of ascent had been by walking, or by horses, or by chaises a 
porteurs. A few years ago M. Riggenbach, the superintendent 
of the railway workshops at Olten, proposed to make a railway 
to the summit. On account of the height, 4,500 feet, an 
unusually steep gradient, about one in four, was necessary. 
The necessary concessions were obtained from the Cantonal 
Governments, and the railway was commenced in 1869. It was 
delayed during the war of 1870, by the non-delivery of some 
rails ordered in France, but it was opened in 1871. The line 
commenced at Vitznau, on the Lake of Lucerne, and is about 
four miles long. The rolling-stock at present consists of three 
locomotives, they have upright boilers, and their driving axles 
are furnished with cog-wheels, which secure them a firm hold or 
grip on a cogged rail ; three large passenger carriages, with 
accommodation for 54 persons each ; and two smaller ones 
having thirty seats each. 

Another line with extraordinary inclines was the mountain 
railway of Mr. Fell. He actually succeeded in carrying it, and 
working it, over Mont Cenis itself, by methods he had pre- 
viously tested on the High Peak Railway in Derbyshire. Its 
chief characteristic was the centre rail. The two outer rails- 
were of the ordinary flat bottom section, without chairs, spiked 
down upon transverse wood sleepers, and they carrfed the 
weight of the engine. The "centre-rail" was double-headed, 


laid on its side instead of its edge, supported by and bolted to 
vvrought-iron " saddle chairs," fastened to a longitudinal sleeper 
resting upon the transverse sleepers. The upper edge of the 
" centre-rail " was nine inches above the surface of the side rails, 
and its two " heads " stood out clear of the chairs, ready to 
receive the lateral pressure of the four friction wheels of the 
engine. The "centre rail" was laid only on the steep inclines, 
its ends being tapered off to blunt points, so that the friction 
wheels might enter upon and leave it gradually. The locomotive 
was a complicated machine, and contained about as many 
working parts as two ordinary engines. 

The practical working of the line, however, at first was 
hindered by many discouraging facts. "I regret to inform you," 
wrote a correspondent of the Times, in the autumn of 1868, 
" that the Mont Cenis Railway Company has come to consider- 
able grief, and that the communications between France and 
Italy are in a very disturbed and uncertain state. We hear of 
one train having been stuck for eight or nine hours in the snow, 
frozen to its place. In short, the concern seems to have com- 
pletely broken down, the disaster being apparently mainly due 
to want of sufficient locomotive power, but accelerated by the 
unusually early and very heavy fall of snow. The locomotives 
furnished to the Mont Cenis Company were not of the best 
description, and they have failed to do the work allotted to them. 
It is a fact that an engine which has performed a return journey 
across the mountain almost invariably needs more or less repairs 
on getting back to St. Michel, where there is a lack of means to 
repair it. Fresh pieces have to be got from a distance, and 
much delay ensues. The wear and tear is great in locomotives 
constructed on the Fell system. It was naturally sought to 
show the utmost possible advantage in speed over the old mode 
of crossing the mountain, and five and a quarter hours were 
fixed as the time for performing a journey which due consider- 
ation for the engines ought to have extended to seven hours. 
It was something like making a steady roadster do a racer's 
work. The animal, overstrained, knocked up." Subsequently, 
however, a telegram announced that Lord Mayo, en route to 
India, had made the passage across Mont Cenis in four hours 
by the Fell Railway, and the line continued for several years 
in successful operation. 


The degree of curvature that may be given to a railway, in 
order that, if necessary, it may thread its course among hills, 
valleys, parks, and lakes that lie in its route, is a matter of 
importance. When railways were first projected, great appre- 
hensions were entertained, not only of the resistance which 
might be produced by curves, but of the danger of passing over 
them at any considerable speed ; and standing orders were 
adopted in Parliament, which required that all curves having 
a less radius than a mile should be the subject of special inquiry. 
In the course of investigations made by Dr. Lardner, in 1838, 
he ascertained that the effect of curves in producing resistance 
was infinitely less than had been supposed. Curves, having 
a radius of three-quarters, or even half a mile, did not pro- 
duce the slightest increase of resistance at any speed which the 
trains attained. 

In the construction of curves upon railways, the outer rail 
is placed at a somewhat higher elevation than the inner; the 
effect of which is to make the carriage lean slightly inwards, so 
that its weight has a tendency to resist the centrifugal force 
attending the curvilinear motion. An animal when moving in 
a circle spontaneously assumes such a position ; and the leaning 
inwards will depend on the velocity of the motion and the 
smallness of the circle ; and similarly, the elevation of the outer 
rail must depend upon the radius of the curve and the velocity 
of trains that will pass over it. Experience has, in some 
instances, led to the adoption of curves of smaller dimensions 
than those formerly allowed. On the Newcastle and Carlisle 
line there is a succession of curves, the radii of which are very 
small ; and though some of these are found on steep inclines, 
the line is worked with economy and safety. On the Manchester 
and Leeds Railway are two curves, each of 220 yards radius, 
distant from any station, and there is one in a gradient of one 
in eighty-two, over which the trains have run with security and 
speed for several years. On the other hand, some curves have 
been found so inconvenient that their radii have been altered. 
Thus, on the Lancashire and Yorkshire line, at Charleston, the 
radii of several have been increased from 660 to 2,000 feet ; and 
on the Midland line at Shipley, near Bradford, the radius of the 
curve by the removal of a hill of rock will be greatly improved. 

Some of the most remarkable curves are on the American 



lines. This is not surprising considering the bold outline of 
many districts of the country through which some of these 
railways are carried. One of them is known as the "Chiques 


Rock Curve." Hence the road is cramped for space between 
the hills and the river. From the summit of the Rock a lovely 
landscape may be surveyed. 




One of the most remarkable curves in the world is that at 
Kittanning Point, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, two hundred 
and forty-two miles from Philadelphia. The curve is reached 
shortly after leaving Altoona station, from which there is a 
rise for many miles of over ninety feet to the mile. The gorge 
continually deepens as the train ascends, until the tops of the 
tallest trees are far below, and the few houses visible seem lost 
in an impenetrable chasm. Soon the valley, which the road has 
followed for six miles, separates into two chasms neither of 
which could be made available for further progress. But 
engineering science and skill proved equal to the task. By the 
grand Horse-shoe Curve represented in our engraving, the road 
crosses both ravines on a high embankment, cuts away the 
point of the mountain dividing them, sweeps around the stupen- 
dous western wall, and leads away to a more tractable pass. 
The sides of the curve are parallel with each other, thus giving 
trains travelling the same way the appearance of moving in 
entirely different directions. Reaching the new pass, the road 
continues its steady ascent through the very heart of the great 
dividing range of a continent. c 

The route of the railway being now determined, the devia- 
tions, if any, permitted by Parliament being arranged, the work 
let to the contractors-in-chief, and underlet to subordinates, the 
undertaking commences at the part where there is most to be 
done. The reason of this is that the line has to be completed 
throughout as nearly as possible simultaneously. Those portions 
that lie between heavy cuttings and embankments are levelled, 
and rails laid down, so that the material from the one may be 
used to form the other. A few scores of navvies may now be 
seen on the face of the hill through which the cutting is to 
pass ; the hill is laid open, and a " gullet " excavated. This 
term is applied to a cutting made just large enough to receive 
a row of the wagons that are to bear away the earth ; and into 
the gullet the tramway is run. The wagons can now be brought 
close alongside the material to be moved, and several men being 
set to work at each, the soil is flung into them with ease and 
celerity. Meanwhile, as the stuff is removed the gullet is 
opened farther and farther into the hill, while earth is showered 
into the wagons from all sides. When these are rilled, they are 
secured together in a train, and, if the inclination of the ground 



permits it, they run down by their own velocity, being regulated 
by a breakman, who stands on the last wagon, and who applies 
his feet to a lever when he wishes the trucks to be stopped. 
His duty, however, is anything but pleasant, for, what with the 
roughness of the roads, and the action of the springless vehicle 
on which he rides, the shaking he receives in his journey seems 
sufficient to reduce every joint in his body to a most unsatis- 
factory condition of laxity. On reaching his journey's end he 
consigns the laden trucks to the embankment men, and assists 
in driving the horses which are to draw the empty trucks back. 


In the interim a fresh supply of empty wagons has been 
brought into the cutting, and the men are now filling these as 
they did the others. When a large number of navvies are 
employed, the trains of wagons are very numerous, but care is 
usually taken that the limited room they are obliged to occupy 
shall not occasion one to hinder another. 

Other considerations have also to be regarded. In the 
formation of cuttings, springs are frequently tapped which dis- 


charge large quantities of water, and which must be conveyed 
away by means of drains. Sometimes, too, if rainy weather 
comes on, large quantities of water unexpectedly pour from 
the sides of cuttings, and this has to be turned into temporary 
channels till permanent drains are constructed. The excava- 
tors are usually paid according to the number of loads filled, 
though prices are necessarily conditioned on the nature of the 

When the stuff has been removed, and the gullet can lay a 
reasonable claim to the appellation of a cutting, the rails arc 
moved so as to bring the wagons immediately alongside the 
wall of earth on either hand, and thus two trains may be filled 
at the same time. Meanwhile barrows laden with earth are 
trundled from all directions and the contents overturned into 
the trucks. Runs, as they are called, are also made, by laying 
planks up the sides of the cutting, on which barrows may be 
wheeled. The running is performed by strong men, round the 
waist of each of whom is a belt, and fastened to it is a rope 
running up the side of the cutting, turning on a wheel at the 
top, and at its end is a horse. The barrow being laden, a signal 
is given, the driver leads the horse quickly out a given dis- 
tance into the field, and the barrow and man are drawn up the 
acclivity*; the contents of the barrow are emptied, the horse 
being led back the rope is slackened, and the man runs down 
the plank again, drawing the empty barrow after him. 

This practice of running, though common, is dangerous, for 
the man rather hangs to than supports the barrow, and it at 
once becomes unmanageable if there is any irregularity in the 
motion of the horse. If the barrow man finds himself unable 
to control it, he tries, by a sudden jerk, to raise himself erect ; 
then throwing the barrow over one side of the board or " run," 
he swings himself round and runs down to the bottom. Should 
both fall on the same side, there is risk of the barrow with its 
contents falling on him before he can escape. Although there 
were from thirty to forty horse-runs in the Tring cutting, which 
was made in this way, and they were constantly working during 
many months, and nearly all the labourers were thrown down 
the slopes several times ; yet from continual practice, and sure- 
footedness, only one fatal accident occurred. A moving plat- 
form was invented by the engineer to supersede the necessity 



of thus perilling life and limb, but the men, considering it 
designed to diminish their labour and wages, broke it. The 
accompanying cut gives a vivid delineation of the process ; and 
when we see the angle at which the ascending stages are laid, 
it will be imagined that it is not an easy thing for the workmen 
to maintain their " centre of gravity within the base." 

If in the formation of a cutting more earth is excavated from 
it than is required for the neighbouring embankments, it be- 


comes necessary to lay the surplus materials on a piece of land 
adjoining the line ; this is called " putting it to spoil." Where, 
on the other hand, there is an excess of embanking or deficiency 
of excavation, it is sometimes necessary to make a cutting out 
of other land ; this is designated "side cutting." In both cases 
the expense of forming the road is increased. Cases some- 
times occur where the distance between the cutting and the 
embankment is such, that the expense of conveying the "earth 
from one part of the line to the other is greater than the cost 


of making a side cutting from which to form the embankment ; 
and it may be better to deposit the earth from the cutting 
which ought to have formed the embankment upon waste 
ground alongside, or of " putting it to spoil." These are con- 
siderations which are left to the judgment of the engineer. 
The cutting being at length reduced to something like its 
intended proportions, the brick and timber work required for 
drainage and other purposes is made. 

The importance of avoiding the trouble, danger, and cost of 
accidents from slips in cuttings is obvious ; and much patient 
attention has been given to the subject. The degree of the 
inclination required by the sides of cuttings or embankments 
depends on the nature of the strata of which they are composed. 
The soils intersected, include peat, clay, and mud, are sometimes 
stratified with seams of clay, shale, sand, and shells, often of 
considerable dip, and with an extreme tendency to slip. When 
saturated with water, the soil swells, and can move laterally 
only towards the unresisting opening of the cutting. " Drying 
again, this ground cracks ; the fissures rapidly fill with dust or 
sand washed or blown in, another saturation thus produces 
another swell, with a further movement, until a fall or slip 
occurs. When the ground is usually full of water, certain clays 
or marl will become so soapy or greasy as almost to destroy 
the friction between the strata, which, in inclined seams, is all 
that holds the upper soils in place. In some, the soil may so 
far dissolve as to run over in a semi-fluid state, thus under- 
mining solid earth above." 

All materials, however, have a certain position at which they 
will rest, which is denominated the angle of repose, but this is 
affected not only by the character of the material themselves, 
but by the influence that weather has on those materials. If 
the strata vary the slope would have to be flatter than in homo- 
geneous earth. Alternate strata of clay and sand are especially 
treacherous ; separate strata will not absorb water and swell 
equally ; and a comparatively impervious stratum like clay 
will hold all the water that comes to it. This will swell and 
move forward towards the face of the slope, the movement 
being on the surface of the next stratum which is like a smooth 
lubricated floor. The action is of course more decisive if the 
strata are inclined. In the strata through which railway 


cuttings are made, and from which embankments are often 
formed, the slopes of the sides are usually about a foot and a 
half horizontal to one foot vertical, and from this they vary from 
three or four feet horizontal to one vertical. Chalk has usually 
great stability. This is illustrated in the town of Dover, a con- 
siderable portion of which lies beneath a high range of chalk 
cliffs, and yet has long been perfectly secure. On the other 
hand, it is sometimes very insecure. In the well-known Merst- 
ham cutting, on the Brighton line, which passes through strati- 
fied chalk the sides of which are nearly perpendicular, there is 
a falling of pieces which sometimes renders the attendance of 
watchers by night and day indispensable. This is especially 
the case in frosty weather, when the jutting pieces begin to give 
way, and after a while many of them come tumbling down. 
Their rattling and crumbling, however, give notice to the work- 
men, and thus they are enabled to provide against accident to 
passing trains. 

When cuttings are formed through rocky strata, no consider- 
able inclination is required, as in the case of the stone cutting 
on the London and Birmingham line between the Wolverton 
and Blisworth stations. The Olive Mount cutting, on the 
Liverpool and Manchester Railway, is in some parts more than 
a hundred feet deep. It is indeed a narrow ravine cut for 
nearly two miles through the solid rock, and 480,000 cubic 
yards of stone were removed in its excavation."* In such 
instances tunnelling would generally be less expensive, but in 
this case the material was required for the formation of an 
embankment in the vicinity. So small is the sacrifice of land, 
and the amount of superfluous material necessary to be removed 
when there is no angle of repose, that cuttings through clay, 
gravel, or other loose substances are nearly as expensive as 
those made in rock. 

Other materials require different degrees of inclination to 
give them the desired stability. Thus the London clay has 
been made to stand at one to one, and has slipped at one to 
three, its firmness depending greatly on its dryness when cut 
through, or, in the case of embankments, when it is tipped. 

If. it contains much water, it is peculiarly difficult to manage; 

* See page 91 

I 12 


and in the cutting which extends for some distance between the 
Euston and Camden stations, the clay is only retained in its 
position by walls seven bricks in thickness at the foundation, 
and three at the top ; they are twenty feet in height. They 
are also curved inwards to give them additional security. The 
walls by themselves, however, were insufficient to sustain the 
pressure ; and it was found necessary to support them by no 
fewer than forty-four massive iron beams, which stretch across 
over head, and provide a counterpoising lateral pressure. A 
similar arrangement had to be made when the Midland line 


was carried by Haverstock Hill station. With steep slopes 
the bottom is often supported by a low retaining wall or 
revetment of stone or earth. 

Another illustration of the difficulties which have occurred 
in working the London clay may also be mentioned. In the 
formation of a cutting on the London and Birmingham Railway 
at Highgate, near what is called the Archway Road, a gullet 
had been formed and a temporary tramway laid down. Ex- 
cessive wetness set in, but the works were continued with 
persevering energy, when one morning the treacherous material 


gave way, the gullet was filled up, the labour of weeks, estimated 
at 800, was destroyed by an accident which could not have 
been anticipated. 

Sometimes the work is made secure with comparative ease. 
Thus, in all the excavations on the Newcastle and Carlisle 
line, through a district sixty-two miles in length, the slopes 
are made at one and a half to one, and they have stood well. 
The sand cuttings through the Corvan Hills, on that line, are 
no feet deep, and it is interspersed with thin layers of clay, 
yet it has remained firm with a slope of one and a half to one. 
Cuttings on the Birmingham and Gloucester line fifty feet deep 
in pure gravel, have stood well at one to one, and on the same 
line is a cutting eighty-six feet deep, with a spoil bank on 
the top of twenty-four feet, making a total depth of no feet 
in gravel and sand, which has stood at one and a half to one. 

In the construction of cuttings, retaining walls are sometimes 
built to save excavation. They are calculated to resist the 
pressure of the earth behind them, estimating that pressure as 
" equal to the weight of a prism of earth slipping upon the face 
of the natural slope due to the character of the soil." But if 
water collects behind the wall and saturates the earth, then the 
pressure equals the weight of the column of semi-fluid resting 
against the wall. The plan has sometimes been adopted of 
building buttresses opposite each other along the faces of a 
perpendicular cutting. These buttresses may easily be kept 
apart, by a reversed arch below the track and by a brick beam 
overhead, the beam being arched both on its upper and under 
sides. The intermediate faces of the cutting are supported by 
concave retaining walls. 

In cuttings the track has, more or less, a slope towards each 
end, both to reduce the quantity of excavation and to keep the 
side-ditches clear. Where the incline is steep, the side-ditches 
are sometimes lined with stone, in order to save excavation and 
to prevent the ditch from wasting. Such a ditch would be- per- 
haps thirty-three inches deep, eighteen inches open at the top 
paved with three-inch flagging stone at the bottom, and lined 
with walls of twelve to fifteen inches in thickness. "On the 
London and North Western line cross underground drains of 
circular and perforated tiles are used to a considerable extent, 
placed well below the ballast. In some of the deep chalk cut- 


tings some of the side drains are of large bricks, running the 
whole length underground, with cesspools, or eyes, at convenient 
distances to take off the surface water. Semicircular half-brick 
open drains are used for the sides of some of the cuttings." In 
very wet cuttings, covered drains are made under the centre of 
the road-bed ; some are oval, three feet in vertical diameter, and 
two feet wide, the bottom being from four to five feet below the 
surface of the ballast. But with all the care taken to remove 
underlying water, accidents from this cause will occur, although 
perhaps rarely. In dealing with drainage upon such a vast scale 
as is involved in railway works, a knowledge of geology is very 
useful. Every geologist knows the strata that probably underlie 
each other, and where there is water. In cuttings where the 
land is in transverse section, ditches are made on both sides at 
the top, called " crest ditches," which discharge themselves at the 
end of the cutting, if it is not too long, or they fall down its 
sides, and the water has to be carried off by drains that have 
some fall also. 

The great enemy of cuttings, whether in making or maintain- 
ing them, is water. If it runs over the surface of earthworks, it 
dissolves and washes it away, soaks the road-bed of the line, 
and chokes the ditches. One curious and serious effect of this 
is, that no matter how high the mass of matter that is in con- 
tact with the water, and whether it be loam, sand, or clay, the 
water will rise by absorption to the top. The road-bed also 
becomes saturated, the ballast sinks, the sleepers, when a train 
passes, deflect deeply, and in doing so, oppose a heavy grade to the 
wheels, and enormously increase the wear and tear of the road. 
In wet weather mud oozes from beneath the sleepers, and in dry 
seasons this is dissipated in clouds of dust. Clay soils, soaked 
with water, will, on the return of dry weather, shrink and crack 
in every direction ; and whatever may thus disturb the road-bed 
disturbs the sleepers, the fastenings are strained, the chairs are 
broken, the metals are rusted, and the road is rotted. " In an 
economical view," says one authority, " the damage occasioned 
by water is far greater than the utmost cost of its removal." 
"Wherever water is known, or suspected to exist," remarked 
Robert Stcphenson, " its immediate source should be traced, and 
every possible means adopted for diverting it from the slopes 
and adjacent surfaces." All running water must be cut off from 


any point that comes within three feet below the rails. " No 
excellence of ballast can keep a road-bed dry except the surface 
is fully three feet above the reach of water." 

To this end the ditches on the side of cuttings must be 
straight and clean, with an inclination that prevents their con- 
taining stagnant water, and with free outlets to neighbouring 

The surface of the slope may be intersected by numerous 
shallow "spade drains" as they are called, running either straight 
down from the top to the bottom, or diagonally each way, so as 
to form a continual outline like the letter W on the face of the 

Numerous illustrations of the difficulties attending the making 
of cuttings might be given. In the formation of a cutting on 
one of the railways in the north of England, it was estimated 
that about 50,000 cubic yards of earth would have to be 
removed. The computation was unexpectedly found to be 
fallacious. The soft earth was supported by a seam of shale, 
and no sooner was it severed than a mass of earth slipped down 
into the railway, which required the removal of no less than 
500,000 cubic yards of material. 

The Haslingden cutting, on the East Lancashire line, was 
probably one of the most difficult works of the kind ever under- 
taken. Nearly half a million yards of peat, gravel, and sand 
were removed from it, and it had to be cut through a bog-hole, 
the material of which, being saturated with water, sometimes 
came in faster than it could be taken out. The peat was twenty 
feet or more in thickness ; and for three months, during the 
summer of 1848, all the earth that two locomotives and their 
trains could bring was carried away to form an embankment 
without obtaining a foundation. The difficulty was at length 
overcome by the company's engineer, Mr. Perring, who sunk 
large masses of stone at the required points, and these, forcing 
away the peat, provided a solid bed over which the line could be 

The three great cuttings on the London and Birmingham line 
are at Denbigh Hall, Roade, and Blisworth. The last passes 
through limestone and clay, and upwards of 1,000,000 cubic 
yards of earth had to be removed in its formation, about a third 
of which was limestone, nearly as hard as flint. Beneath the 


rock was the clay, and under that were beds of loose shale 
so soaked with water that for a year and a half they resisted 
all efforts to pump them dry. To he-Id the sides of the cutting 
in their place, strong retaining walls had to be erected, behind 
which drains were built through which the water might escape. 
More tharr 800 stonemasons, miners, labourers, and boys were 
at work at this spot, directed by experienced engineers, and 
aided by horse and steam-power, with "all appliances and 
means to boot ; " twenty-five barrels of gunpowder were con- 
sumed weekly, or 3,000 in all, in blasting. The cost of the 


work was about a quarter of a million of pounds sterling. 
This cutting has lately been doubled in width. 

The largest cutting on the London and Birmingham line 
is at Tring. It passes through the flintless chalk ridge of 
Ivinghoe for nearly two miles and a half, and is crossed by 
three bridges of three arches, besides a smaller bridge. Its 
average depth is forty feet ; for a quarter of a mile it is fifty- 
seven feet deep ; 1,500,000 cubic yards of chalk were removed 
in its excavation by horse runs, and they form an embankment 
to the north six miles long and thirty feet high, besides vast 
" spoil banks " of superfluous material. 



Roade cutting is a mile and a half long, and in some places 
sixty-five feet deep, cut through clay and hard rock. Constant 
pumping was necessary. The contractors gave the work up, 
and the company had to take it in hand. Steam-engines were 
set to pump, locomotives to draw, and 800 men and boys to 
dig, wheel, and blast, and 3,000 barrels of gunpowder were used. 

Two other cuttings are deserving of special notice. The one 
is the Birkctt cutting, a little south of Birkett tunnel, about 
two miles and a half south of Kirkby Stephen on the Settle 
and Carlisle line. It is of rock, and has been made through 


what is known as the Great Pennine Fault. It passes through 
shale, mountain limestone, magnesian limestone, grit, slate, iron, 
coal, and lead ore in thin bands, all within a hundred yards. 
" The most curious combination," remarked Mr. Crossley, " I 
have ever seen." In the same side of the hill the strata rise 
up from a horizontal position till they are not far from per- 

The other is on the same railway somewhat south of 
Armathwaite. The line runs through a long ancient forest, called 
Baron or Barren Wood, in some places thickly timbered with 
oak and ash, fir and beech ; and in others covered with brush- 



wood and bracken. A heavy cutting then runs through the 
wood for a distance of nearly a mile ; the hill slopes 150 feet to 
the water's edge. Here, among beautiful views, are the re- 
markable rocks that raise, for perhaps 100 feet, their "shattered 
and fretted summits," and form the entrance to what is known 
as Samson's Cave. The water washes their base. The view 
is depicted in our engraving as seen from the other side of the 
beautiful river Eden. The rocks of Samson's Cave are in 

The vicissitudes that arise in the prosecution of railway work 
are sometimes very serious. Before us lies a letter of a young 


engineer, named Sharland, to whose memory we have elsewhere 
paid a tribute, in which he describes an accident that occurred 
when making the cutting at the north end of the Blea Moor 
tunnel on the Settle and Carlisle line. "We have had," he 
says, "a terrible storm. A waterspout burst over our tunnel. 
The men were all at work as usual, when without two minutes' 
warning a sheet of water came tearing down the tunnel hill like 
an immense wave, five feet in height. Down it came, right 
into a cutting where fortunately there were only seven men 
at work ; but before the poor fellows could run ten yards it was 
on them, and two of them were drowned immediately ; also 


a horse, which was in the act of drawing a wagon towards the 
tip, was overtaken, and in less than twenty minutes, both horse 
and wagon were buried under some hundred tons of debris from 
the mountain side. You never saw a more perfect wreck than 
now appears in the beautiful valley of Dent : seven road bridges 
are washed away bodily, and what was formerly the public road 
is now the bed of the river. One solid block of marble IO ft. 
x 4' 6" x i' 8" was washed fifty-four yards down stream ; this 
gives some idea of the force of the torrent ; stone walls, trees 
etc., are washed away, and as I have said before, the wreck is 
most complete on all sides. The greatest wonder to me is that 


there was not a greater loss of life. A rain-gauge in Dent 
Valley showed that there had been 2 J inches of rain in three- 
quarters of an hour." 

Of course the deeper a cutting is carried the costlier it 
becomes, until a point is reached at which it is cheaper to run 
underground. At the mouth of the Dove Holes tunnel, near 
Buxton, on the Midland, the cutting was 72 or 73 feet, a depth 
at which the cost of .cutting or of tunnelling would about 
balance one another. Here, in the summer flood rain of 1872, 
the cutting slipped in, and presented the appearance depicted 
on the previous page ; when, eventually, it was cleared out, 
the engineers decided to arch over part of the cutting* as in- 
dicated on the second engraving, which we transfer to these 



pages from our history of " the Rise and Progress " of the 
Midland Railway. 

Other considerations may also affect the choice between 
cuttings and tunnels. Thus, as Mr. Barlow, the engineer-in- 
chief of the Midland Company informed us, in the formation 
of the Rowsley and Buxton Extension northwards towards 
Manchester, he in some instances substituted tunnels for cuttings, 


the line being also moved a little nearer to the rocks in order 
to prevent the embankments running into the channel of the 
river and displacing the current. Difficulty would also have 
been found in securing space whereon to deposit the material 
from a cutting. These alterations received the sanction of the 
Board of Trade. 

The difficulties connected with cuttings do not end when the 


works are completed. In many instances their sides have stood 
securely for weeks, or months, or even years after they were 
finished, and have then loosened and fallen. Sometimes these 
misfortunes arise from the unexpected accumulation of water 
behind the earthwork, sometimes from the disturbed drainage 
of adjoining lands, and sometimes from chemical action. The 
chemical combinations that are thus created are very curious 
and embarrassing to the railway engineer. The walls of tunnels, 
for instance, on the Midland Railway, both at Miller's Dale and 
on the Settle and Carlisle, stood perfectly for years, and it was 
thought they would continue to stand of themselves : they had 
then, at great inconvenience and expense for the traffic must 
be carried on to be lined with brick. So with the sides of 
cuttings. An unintelligent observer sees that a slip has taken 
place upon a railway, and thinks that the engineer is at fault 
that he ought to have made the slope greater. But with some 
materials no sloping of the side of a cutting will arrest the active 
chemical process that, under some conditions of weather and 
time, will be developed. Thus, for instance, with the Ampthill 
cutting on the Bedford and London line of the Midland. " You 
may lay that stuff on its back," remarked Mr. Crossley the 
engineer to us, " but it will kick up its heels. I will show you 
some nearer London," he added, " which lies nearly on the flat, 
but it is always boiling up and turning over." 

In the winter of 1841 and 1842, landslips took place in the 
New Cross cutting of the Croydon line. The cutting is in some 
parts eighty feet deep, and in the autumn about 50,000 cubic 
yards of earth suddenly gave way, immediately after the passing 
of a train, from the western slope, and covered both lines of rails 
to a depth of nearly twelve feet and for a length of 360 feet. 
Other slips subsequently occurred near the same spot, and 
upwards of 250,000 cubic yards of earth had to be removed. 
The works were carried on day and night without intermission, 
but it required three months before the trains could 'run as 

Similarly, in the autumn of 1876, a landslip took place on 
the North British Railway line, near Dunfermline. About 8,000 
tons of sand and rock gave way at a cutting about forty feet 
deep, and covered the line for some forty yards to a depth of 
fifteen feet. A special cattle train ran into the heap, fourteen 



wagons were smashed, and the engine was thrown across the 
opposite line of rails. The line was not cleared for five days. 

Wherever possible the slopes of cuttings and embankments 
are covered with a layer of soil, procured from the base of the 
embankments or from the top of the cuttings when they are 
commenced ; this is spread about six inches in thickness, or as 
thick as the amount of soil will allow. The soil should be laid 
on as soon as possible after the excavation is made, or the 
embankment is consolidated, and it should be either sown with 
grass or clover, or both, in order to have a turf upon it before 
the slopes are affected by the weather. By attending to these 
matters, slopes will stand when otherwise they would crumble. 



Levelling of the Round Down Cliff Blasting on the Londonderry and 
Coleraine Railway Embankments. Making an Embankment. The 

Tip. Disappearance of an Embankment. Embankments on Marshes. 

Chat Moss. Embankments Chained with Iron Cables. Hanvvell 
Embankment. Intake Embankment. Embankments on Loch Foyle. 
A Baked Embankment. Earthworks of Railways. Comparison of 
Labour of Ancients and Moderns. Market Gardens on Railway Banks. 
Navigators and their Characteristics. Cunning of Navvies. Com- 
parison of English and Foreign Navvies. Nicknames of Navvies. 
Courage and Recklessness of Navvies. Management of Navvies. 

N the ever-varying exigencies that arise 
in the formation of a railway, abundant 
opportunities are afforded for testing 
the skill and experience of the en- 
gineer. An illustration in the con- 
struction of the South Eastern line, is 
worthy of special consideration. To- 
wards the west, in the direction of 
Folkestone, the line of sea-face is ter- 
minated by Abbot's Cliff, and to the 
east, adjoining Dover, by the well- 
known Shakespeare's Cliff.* These 
hills are separated from the " Heights " by a narrow valley, 
from which they slope upwards by gentle courses to their es- 
carpment, which has a majestic perpendicular front, about five 
miles in extent, looking to the ocean, and of an average 
height of 350 feet. This front is varied by occasional bold 
projections, which divide the beach at their base into cor- 
responding spaces. One of these protruding rocks was the 
Round Down Cliff: it rose 375 feet above the sea, and was the 
highest point of the chalk cliffs between Folkestone to Dover. 
How then, was the railway to be carried in a direct line to 

* Vide Frontispiece. The initial letter represents the viaduct and 
tunnel near Penmaenmawr. 




Shakespeare's Cliff. To tunnel was impossible, if such a word is 
found in the vocabulary of the engineer of the present day ; to 
dig it down would have occasioned a delay of twelve months, 
and an expense of ; 10,000. Although the obstacle to be re- 
moved was nothing less than a mass of chalk rock, 300 feet in 
length, of still greater height, and averaging 70 feet in thick- 
ness, the engineer of the line, Mr. William Cubitt, devised a new 


method of accomplishing the desired work. It was by the 
explosion, by galvanism, of 19,000 pounds of gunpowder. 

At the time appointed, a number of distinguished visitors 
reached the Downs, and joined the directors and the scientific 
corps at a commodious pavilion erected near the edge of the 
cliff, at a distance of ab}ut a quarter of a mile from the'point 
of explosion. "When the arrangements were completed, and the 
spectators assembled, curiosity was at its height, and the most 


strange and fearful speculations were entertained by the people 
assembled as to the possible contingencies which might arise. 
* What/ said Professor Sedgvvick, ' what if there should be a 
concealed fissure a blinded chasm in the cliff behind us ? A 
smart vibration might throw it open.' ' What then ? ' inquired 
a ghastly querist. ' We shall be swallowed up ! ' muttered one 
in response ; while another sighed, ' We shall be swallowed 
down ! ' Still the fascination was irresistible, and though many 
were uneasy, and wished to be gone, no one withdrew. After 
a long suspense of half an hour the discharge of half a dozen 
blasts on the face of Abbot's Cliff occasioned a great sensation. 
When two o'clock arrived, the time appointed for the explosion, 
the interest which pervaded the multitude became most intense. 
The ' choughs and crows that winged the midway air* were 
distinctly heard amidst the profound calm that prevailed. The 
signal which announced it to be fifteen minutes before firing 
having been given, all the other flags were hoisted. The air 
was still, the sea was calm, and the murmuring surges gently 
laved the cliff's huge base. A quarter of an hour now passed, 
and a shell with a lighted fusee was thrown over the cliff, from 
which it bounded to the beach, where it burst with an astound- 
ing report, followed by echoes from the hills, which had the 
effect of sharp fusillades of musketry. The flags were then 
hauled down, and at length the 'one minute before firing' 

"The excitement of the people was now painfully intense, 
while their courage was put to its severest test. ' Now ! now ! ' 
shouted the eager multitude, and a dull, muffled, booming sound 
was heard, accompanied for a moment by a heavy jolting move- 
ment of the earth, which caused the knees to smite. The wires 
had been fired. In an instant the bottom of the cliff appeared 
to dissolve, and to form by its melting elements a hurried 
sea-borne stream. The superincumbent mass, to the extent of 
about five hundred feet, was then observed to separate from the 
main land, and as the dissolution of its base was accomplished 
it gradually sank to the beach. In two minutes its dispersion 
was complete. The huge volleys of ejected chalk, as they 
swelled the lava-like stream, appeared to roll inwards upon 
themselves, crushing their integral blocks, and then to return to 
the surface in smaller and coalescing forms. The mass seemed 


to ferment under the influence of an unseen, but uncontrollable 
power. There was no roaring explosion, no bursting out of 
fire, and, what is very remarkable, not a single wreath of 
smoke ; for the mighty agent had done its work under an 
amount of pressure which almost matched its energies : the 
pent-up fires were restrained in their intensity till all smoke 
was consumed. A million tons of weight and a million tons of 
cohesion held them in check. When the turf at the top of the 
cliff was launched to the level of the beach, the stream of debris 
extended a distance of 1,200 feet, and covered a space of more 
than fifteen acres ! " 

The moment the headlong course of the chalk had ceased, 
and the hopes of the spectators were realized, a simultaneous 
cry arose of " Three cheers for the engineer ! " and William 
Cubitt was honoured with a hearty huzza from the lips of a 
grateful people. An era in the history of engineering had 
passed, and a precedent had been established, the results of 
which none could anticipate. It had been demonstrated that 
the most powerful and mysterious agency in nature was under 
computable regulations, and in no small degree under the con- 
trol of science. The congratulations thus re-echoed were borne 
to the gloom of the battery house, and at once dissipated the 
apprehensions of the operators ; for so slight was the noise and 
the shock that the impression made on their minds was that 
the experiment had failed, for their situation prevented their 
witnessing the result. The ruins of the Round Down Cliff may 
now be observed stretching towards the sea at the mouth of the 
Shakespeare tunnel. " Nothing," says Sir John Herschel, " can 
place in a more signal light the exactness of calculation which 
could enable the eminent engineer by whom the whole arrange- 
ments are understood to have been made, so completely to task 
to its utmost every pound of power employed as to exhaust its 
whole effort in useful work leaving no superfluous power to be 
wasted in the production of useless uproar or mischievous 
dispersion, and thus saving at a blow not less than 7,000 to 
the railway company." 

A similar blasting, on a small scale, was made on the Lon- 
donderry and Coleraine line. It having been found necessary 
to hurry on the works, it was determined to throw a hill 
into the sea, through which a tunnel had been commenced. 



This took place in June, 1846. A heading or gallery was 
formed, in the rock from the side of the cliff, fifty feet in 
length, at the end of which a shaft was sunk, for twenty-two 
feet, to the level of the railway, and again another gallery was 
made at the bottom, running at right angles to the first, and 
farther into the rock. At the end of this was placed 2,400 
pounds of powder, the earth was well filled in, and the wires for 


,the passage of the electric fluid carefully arranged. The smaller 
charge of 600 pounds was then placed higher up in the rock. 
On the explosion being made, the bottom of the mass heaved 
outwards for a moment, trembling with the force exerted on it, 
and then, cracking into a thousand fissures, rolled into the 
sea. The amount of material removed was upwards of 30,000 

When the level of a railway has to be raised, it is usually 


done by an embankment. The material, as we have seen, is 
generally obtained from a neighbouring cutting ; the engineer 
in laying out the railway, having arranged that the embank- 
ments and its cuttings shall in amount about equal one another. 
The distance along which the stuff is conveyed to the em- 
bankment is called " the lead." The first thing in the formation 
of an embankment is the shaving off to the thickness of six 
inches of the turfs, if any, at the base of the intended line, 
and they are put aside for sodding down the slopes of the 
work when finished. By these means also a good bottom, free 
from vegetable matter, is obtained. All stumps, brush, 01 
other obstructions, which, by their disturbance of the integrity 
of the bank, or by their decay, might cause sinking or slips, 
are then removed. The culverts being laid in cement are 
allowed ample time to set before the filling commences. The 
material of which the embankment is made is conveyed along 
the lead by different means. If possible, the loaded wagons 
run down the tramroad, by their own gravity, to the em- 
bankment. In some instances, each load has to be drawn 
along the lead by horses, in other cases by engines, which 
are themselves conveyed to the scene of operations on what 
are called " drugs." To take so weighty an affair as a locomo- 
tive along a common road, is not a trifling matter, especially 
if the distance it has to travel be considerable, and hills 
intervene. Then may the old turnpike-road be seen invaded 
by a team of sixteen or eighteen contractor's horses, each pair 
under the guidance of an appointed driver ; while the gleaming 
brass-work, the black funnel, and the metal ribs of the engine, 
form a striking contrast to the rural simplicity and tranquillity 
that stretch around. 

In the formation of an embankment, it is of much import- 
ance that it should be constructed with great firmness, and 
with due consideration of the nature of the material of which 
it is composed, and of the probable weight which it is designed 
to support. To this end the embankment will be made at first 
to the full intended width, for material subsequently added does 
not readily unite with the original mass. If additions become 
necessary the side of the bank is, perhaps, " stepped." An 
embankment is sometimes commenced from two directions, 
which at last unite in the middle. A train of wagons being 



brought on to the part of the embankment already finished, 
preparations are made to empty them. A tramroad has 
already been formed to the end of the bank, and at its extreme 
verge a stout piece of timber is secured to prevent the wagons 
^vhen their contents are discharged, from being precipitated 
over it. One of the trucks is then detached from the train, 
and being brought within a few hundred yards of the end of 
the embankment, the Jiorse that draws it is made to trot and 
then to gallop, so as to give the required impetus to his load 
The uninitiated observer fancies that both horse and driver 
must be killed, or hurled over the embankment ; but when 
they have approached very near to the edge, the driver loosens 

Jl^fl 1 - 


the horse from the wagon, gives him a signal which he has 
been taught to obey, both leap aside with the greatest celerity, 
and the wagon alone rushes on till it is suddenly stopped at 
the end of the embankment by the piece of timber, and the 
shock makes the hinder part tip up and discharge the load. 
The horse is immediately brought up again and hooked on, 
the truck rights itself, and is drawn away to form part of 
the empty train which will soon return to the cutting. If the 
works of the railway are proceeding with moderate rapidity, 
two lines of rails, and two or three sets of wagons, horses, 
and men, are simultaneously at work. Care is of Bourse 
necessary that the elevation of the embankment be rightly 



adjusted: this Is ensured by the erection of posts at intervals 
along the line, fitted with cross pieces that indicate the height 
to be observed. 

When the general outline of the embankment has thus been 
given, it is trimmed so as to have the required uniformity of 
appearance, and the necessary material is conveyed to the spot, 
in little three-wheeled carts, the contents of which are tipped 
over the side, and then spread with the spade. 

The face of a slope, according to the analogy of nature, is 
strongest when curved so as to be flattest at the base, where 
the pressure is greatest, and to counteract the effect of time 
and of weather in gradually washing down the slopes. In 
districts where stone is abundant, embankments and excava- 
tions are extensively faced with it. Embankments must also 
be made strong enough to withstand the vibration caused by 
the passage of fast trains. This has been detected in some 
cases at one and a half mile distance. At the astronomical 
observatories, the disturbance has at the distance of a mile from 
the passing train sensibly affected the instruments. " The 
blows of a pile engine, in driving piles in some kinds of ground, 
are sufficient to unsettle the foundations of contiguous buildings. 
This was the case at Lincoln, on the Great Northern line, 
where the station was supported by iron screw-piles in order 
to avoid this danger." Vibration may be an important cause 
of the failure of earthworks many years after the opening of a 

How unexpected difficulties arise in the prosecution of great 
engineering works, may be illustrated in the case of em- 
bankments. On one occasion an embankment was observed, 
without any apparent cause, gradually to sink, and the adjoin- 
ing fields to rise ; the mass having penetrated some less solid 
stratum below, and by expanding at its base had elevated, 
without otherwise disturbing, the adjoining surface. The 
Hanwell embankment on the Great Western line, fifty-four feet 
high, once broke through the covering of a clay stratum 
beneath. The swollen ground " forced up on one side of 
the embankment extended for 400 feet, with a width of 
eighty feet, a height of nearly ten feet, and had been removed 
horizontally for about fifteen feet. Had this embankment 
been made originally with flatter slopes, the extension of base, 


by distributing the weight over a greater area, would have 
saved the failure. As it was, this extensive work actually 
absorbed more material in its repair than in its original con- 
struction." It is also asserted that an embankment on a 
railway in North America suddenly disappeared from view, 
and sank in sixty feet of water. The cause was ascribed to the 
fact that an extensive lake had, in the course of ages, been 
covered with various deposits, which at length formed a soil 
of sufficient stability to withstand the operations of agriculture ; 
but being oppressed by the weight of so extraordinary a con- 
trivance as a railway embankment, it declined to be thus 
burdened, and deposited its load beneath its waters. 

The embankment of the Great Eastern line which crosses 
Stratford Marshes has a peculiarity worthy of notice. In order 
to facilitate its construction, by enabling the workmen to tip 
more wagons than usual in a given time, Mr. Braithwaite 
constructed a kind of scaffolding or stage in advance of the 
end of the embankment ; and by leaving some of the timber 
framework of the scaffolding in the earth of the embankment, 
it is so bound together as to enable it to more effectually 
withstand the action of the heavy floods to which the valley 
of the Lea is subject, than if it had been constructed in the 
ordinary way. 

Other curious difficulties have arisen in the formation of 
embankments across marshy districts. Thus it was found with 
one at Ashton, that the materials disappeared as fast as they 
were deposited, owing to the unsound state of the valley at the 
base ; the surface outside the railway actually burst, in conse- 
quence of the enormous pressure ; and a culvert near the spot 
was destroyed. The power of a culvert to sustain an embank- 
ment fifty feet high may be supposed to be great ; but its con* 
struction upon a soft foundation is a task on which no engineer, 
however cautious and skilful, can calculate upon with certainty. 

A similar difficulty occurred in the case of a portion of the 
Newcastle and Darlington line, which crosses a spot called 
Morden Carr, about eight miles north of Darlington. The soil 
consists of peat, and is of great depth, being probably the 
remains of a primaeval forest ; while, from its low position, com- 
pared with the surrounding hilly country, it has in winter the 
appearance of an immense lake. At such times the line has 


been overflowed, and sometimes to such a depth as almost 
to extinguish the engine fires. On one occasion, a portion, to 
the extent of between fifty and sixty yards, gave way, and it 
was necessary to transfer the passengers and luggage across the 
gap, to other trains. Meanwhile, a great number of workmen 
were collected to repair the injury, but incessant rain reduced 
the ground to such a state, that as ballast was laid upon the 
depressed part, the additional weight only caused a further 
sinking, and rendered the attempt abortive. Under these cir- 
cumstances a temporary way had to be constructed, which 
avoided the marshes, and united the sound portions of the line, 
and with great difficulty the line was restored to a condition 
for safe working. 

One of the most important of the lines carried across a morass 
was the Liverpool and Manchester line. Chat Moss was nothing 
less than a huge bog, of soft or flowing moss, covered with 
spagni, or bog-mosses, stretching over an area of twelve square 
miles, from twenty to forty feet in depth, and estimated to 
contain at least sixty million tons of vegetable matter, held 
up by a saucer-shaped stratum of clay and sand, and of so 
pulpy a nature that cattle could not walk on it, and in many 
parts a piece of iron sank into it by its own weight. It will 
readily be imagined that to traverse this place with an embank- 
ment and a secure road, was no small undertaking ; and when 
the railway was under discussion, an eminent opposing en- 
gineer declared "that no man in his senses would attempt a 
railway over Chat Moss ; " and he affirmed that it would cost 
not less than 227,000. 

In order to deprive the moss of some of its water, its drainage 
was commenced ; but, in many instances, the drains filled up 
almost as quickly as they were dug. A pathway between the 
drains was laid of ling or heather on which a man could safely 
walk ; light iron rails were placed on sleepers, along which a 
little wagon could be pushed by boys ; and then followed a thin 
layer of gravel, and sleepers, chairs, and rails. 

Greater difficulty still was found at one part where, as the 
materials were deposited, the whole mass gradually sank ; and 
when the embankment was finished, although the actual level 
of the railway was only four or five feet above the original 
surface, the quantity of earth deposited would have made, on 


ordinary ground, an embankment twenty-four or twenty-five 
feet high. With such materials, therefore, as clay and gravel, it 
would have been impracticable to form an embankment over 
Chat Moss, for the quantity required and the expense involved 
would have been enormous. But George Stephenson here made 
a layer of dry moss, of considerable tenacity ; and upon this 
he placed, transversely, hurdles nine feet long and four broad, 
wickered with heather, and where the moss was soft, two were 
used. The bank, however, had " scarcely been raised three ot 
four feet in height when the stuff broke the heathery surface of 
the bog and sank overhead. More moss was brought up and 
emptied in with no better result ; and for many weeks the fill- 
ing was continued without any embankment having been made. 
Sometimes the visible work done was less than it had appeared 
a fortnight or a month before." The resident engineer himself 
was greatly disheartened, and his directors had seriously to dis- 
cuss the question whether the work should not be abandoned. 

But George Stephenson's one word was persevere. " There is 
no help for it," he said. " The stuff emptied in is doing its work 
out of sight, and if you will but have patience it will soon begin 
to show." " And so," remarks Dr. Smiles, " the filling went on ; 
several hundreds of men and boys were employed to skim the 
moss all round for many thousand yards by means of sharp 
spades, called by the turf cutters ( tommy-spades '; and the 
dried cakes of turf were afterwards used to form the embank- 
ment, until at length as the stuff sank and rested upon the 
bottom, the bank gradually rose above the surface, and slowly 
advanced onwards, declining in height and consequently in 
weight, until it became joined to the floating road already laid 
upon the moss. In the course of forming the embankment, the 
pressure of the bog turf tipped out the wagons caused a copious 
stream of bog-water to flow from the end of it, in colour re- 
sembling Barclay's double stout ; and when completed, the bank 
looked like a long ridge of tightly-pressed tobacco-leaf." Nearly 
700,000 cubic yards of raw moss eventually formed only about 
half that amount of solid embankment. Strange to say, the road 
across Chat Moss proved to be not only one of the best portions 
of the railway, but also one of the cheapest. Its cost had been 
estimated by Mr. Giles at 270,000, but it amounted to only 
about one-tenth of that sum. The example thus set has been 


successfully followed elsewhere, and the South Devon line, for 
instance, crosses the once unfathomable swamp of Cockwood. 

Some of the embankment work of the Great Western railway 
was curiously constructed. It is near the Swindon junction, at 
the northern edge of the great range of Wiltshire Downs. The 
directors " could not stay to cart the earth from the cuttings to 
the places where it was required for embanking ; so where they 
excavated thousands of tons of clay they purchased land to cast 
it upon out of their way, and where they required an embank- 
ment they purchased a hill, and bodily removed it to fill up the 
hollow. They could not stay for the seasons, for proper weather 
to work in, and in consequence of this their clay embankment 
thrown up wet and saturated, swelled out, bulged at the sides, 
and could not be made stable, till at last they drove rows of 
piles on each side, and chained them together with chain-cables, 
and so confined the slippery soil. They drove these piles, tall 
beech trees, twenty feet into the earth, and at this day every 
train passes over tons of chain-cables hidden beneath the 
ballast." * 

The biggest bank on the Great Western Railway is at 
Hanwell. It is about seventy feet high, and three-quarters of a 
mile long, through clay chalk, and, as we were expressively 
informed by the authorities, " all sorts of other things." 

Another embankment, on the Settle and Carlisle line of the 
Midland Company, was most difficult to make. It is the Intake 
embankment, and is a little south of Kirkby Stephen. It is 
about one hundred feet high, and the tipping actually proceeded 
for twelve months without the embankment advancing a yard. 
The tip rails during the whole of that period were unmoved, 
while the masses of slurry, as indicated in the engraving, rolled 
over one another in mighty convolutions, persisting in going 
anywhere and everywhere except where they were wanted. 

A remarkable embankment has been raised on the London- 
derry and Coleraine Railway. It not only serves the ordinary 
purpose of such a work, but reclaims 22,000 acres from the sea, 
at Lough Foyle. This is a large lough on the northern coast 
of Ireland, covering an area of about 60,000 acres, in which the 
tide did not usually rise more than six feet, while at low water 

* Fraser's Magazine. 



a great part of it was perfectly dry, a rich alluvial deposit. Of 
the reclaimed land, 12,000 acres were set apart to cover the 
expenditure of the railway, and were inclosed and sold. 

Difficulties have sometimes arisen in the construction of rail- 
way works against which no precautions could have been made. 
The Wolverhampton embankment had been nearly completed, 
when it was observed to display certain unaccountable volcanic 
indications. It first began to smoke, then became exceedingly 
hot, and a slow smouldering flame might at night be seen to 
rise from it. The people in the neighbourhood were filled with 
alarm : by some it was confidently affirmed that the embank- 


ment would certainly blow up ; and a lady reminded her friends 
of the opinion she had uniformly expressed during the progress 
of the railway, that " the devil was at the bottom of it ! " The 
embankment for some time carried on this freak of spontaneous 
combustion, and having burned the sleepers, at last exhausted 
itself. It was found that the phenomenon had been occasioned 
by a large quantity of sulphuret of iron, or pyrites, contained in 
the earth, 

The earthworks of a railway, as the cuttings, levellings, and 
embankments are denominated, are frequently enormous. In 
lines that traverse comparatively level districts they are unim- 


portant ; but in others they are great and costly. According to 
the estimate laid before the Parliamentary Committee by the 
engineer of the South Western Railway, it was computed that 
the aggregate amount of earthwork on the earlier lines of that 
company would be about 16,000,000 cubic yards, an average of 
200,000 cubic yards a mile. Almost every portion of the Lon- 
don and Birmingham line consisted of embankments or cuttings ; 
so that by the original section the latter were estimated at about 
12,000,000, and the embankments at more than 10,000,000 cubic 
yards. On the Settle and Carlisle railway of the Midland 
Company, a farmer declared to us that "there wasn't a level 
piece of ground on the whole line big enough to build a house 

Mr. Lecount made some interesting calculations, illustrative 
of the labour involved in the formation of the earthworks of the 
London and Birmingham Railway. He declared that it was 
the greatest public work ever executed. " If we estimate its 
importance," he said, " by the labour alone which has been ex- 
pended on it, perhaps the great Chinese wall might compete 
with it ; but when we consider the great outlay of capital which 
it has required, the great and varied talents which have been in 
a constant state of requisition during the whole of its progress, 
together with the unprecedented engineering difficulties, which 
we are happy to say are now overcome, the gigantic work of the 
Chinese sinks wholly into the shade." 

He then proceeded to institute a comparison between the 
railway and the Great Pyramid of Egypt. " After making the 
necessary allowances for the foundations, galleries, etc., and 
reducing the whole to one uniform denomination, it will be 
found that the labour expended on the Great Pyramid was 
equivalent to lifting 15,733,000,000 cubic feet of stone one foot 
high. This labour was performed, according to Diodorus 
Siculus, by 300,000 men ; according to Herodotus, by 100,000 
men ; and it required for its execution twenty years. If we 
reduce in the same manner to one common denomination the 
labour expended in constructing the London and Birmingham 
Railway, the result is 25,000,000,000 cubic feet of material (re- 
duced to the same weight as that used in constructing the 
Pyramid) lifted one foot high, or more than 9,000,000,000 cubic 
feet more than were lifted one foot high in the construction of 


the Pyramid ; yet this immense undertaking has been per- 
formed by about 20,000 men in less than five years." 

It has been proposed that the sloping sides of a railway 
embankment, well sunned and sheltered, might be used for pur- 
poses of cultivation. "There are miles of embankment," we are 
assured, especially in the south and west of England, where 
vines would flourish and grapes ripen, while ordinary wall fruit, 
supported on trellises, would be in a capital situation. Green 
figs, too, the cultivation of which is neglected, could not have a 
better place for growing than on the side of a sunny embank- 

"I had the pleasure," writes a correspondent of the Gardener's 
Magazine^ " of seeing perhaps half an acre of strawberries the 
other day on a railway embankment. They were planted 
thickly and broadcast, the whole ground being covered with 
them, and they were loaded with bloom. Perhaps this is the 
best way of growing strawberries on railway embankments, as 
the whole ground is thus covered with them ; and the fierce 
sunshine, though intensified by the slope of the ground, cannot 
burn the roots." 

Another advantage of planting the slopes of embankments 
with trees is found in the fact that their roots, at least of those 
which do not penetrate with a straight tap root, bind together 
the surface soil, which they permeate and interlace. In Scotland, 
where there is a steep slope, more especially if it consist of what 
is called "travelled" earth, it is closely planted to guard it 
against landslips. It has, we presume, been somewhat playfully 
added, that if embankments were covered with trees, a train 
might indeed leave the rails, but we should read no more of their 
being " precipitated to the bottom of a lofty embankment." It 
might be possible for a railway carriage to get "up a tree," 
but it would be difficult for it to get " down a hole." 

In Belgium a plan has been adopted of thus turning railway 
fences to advantage. They consist of wooden posts 4^ feet 
high, connected by four lines of wires, across which four long 
thin sticks are tied obliquely. In front of and between each 
post are planted cordon apples and pears, which are trained 
along the oblique sticks. " The trees," says a writer, " appeared 
healthy, and likely to be very productive." 

Having thus considered some of the earthworks of a railway, 


we may refer to the special race of men of whose labours they 
are the outcome. 

The word "navvie" is an abridgment of "navigator," a 
class of men first employed in the construction of the canals 
that immediately preceded the railway era. Many were 
" bankers " from the lowlands of Lincolnshire and Cambridge- 
shire, where they had made the banks and cut the canals by 
which waste lands were recovered from marsh and sea. The 
wages offered by railway contractors drew great numbers of 
other men from all parts of the country, especially from the hills 
of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and they had the boldest charac- 
teristics of the Anglo-Saxon stock. Their great strength, their 
knowledge of embanking, boring and well sinking, and their 
familiarity with the nature of clays and rocks, gave them special 
qualifications for making railway earthworks. 

The navvie of the period wandered from one place to another. 
He usually " wore a white felt hat with the brim turned up, a 
velveteen or jean square-tailed coat, a scarlet plush waistcoat 
with little black spots, and a bright-coloured kerchief round his 
herculean neck, when, as often happened, it was not left entirely 
bare. His corduroy breeches were retained in position by a 
leathern strap round the waist, and were tied and buttoned at 
the knee, displaying beneath a solid calf and foot encased in 
strong high-laced boots. Joining together in a 'butty gang,' 
some ten or twelve of these men would take a contract to cut 
out and remove so much 'dirt' as they denominated earth- 
cutting fixing their price according to the character of the 
'stufif,' and the distance to which it had to be wheeled and 
tipped. The contract taken, every man put himself to his 
mettle : if any were found skulking, or not putting forth his full 
working power, he was ejected from the gang." Their powers 
of endurance and their consumption of flesh food were alike 
enormous. They seemed to disregard danger, and they were as 
reckless of their earnings as of their lives. Pay day was usually 
once a fortnight, when a large amount of their earnings was 
squandered in dissipation. A sum equal to ;i,ooo a mile on 
all the railways of England, has, it is said, thus been wasted 
Ignorant and violent as some of them were, they were open- 
handed to their comrades, and would share their last penny with 
their friends who were in distress. They also often had a 


shrewdness, and even a cunning, which got many a one into 
a scrape and many another out. 

An illustration of their keenness is given by Sir Francis Head. 
During the construction of the London and Birmingham line a 
landlady at Hillmorton, near Rugby, of a " very sharp practice, 
which she had imbibed in dealings for many years with canal 
boatmen, was constantly remarking aloud that no navvie should 
ever * do ' her ; and although the railway was in her immediate 
neighbourhood, and although the navvies were her principal 
customers, she took pleasure on every opportunity in repeating 
the invidious remark. 

" It had, however, erne fine morning scarcely left her large, 
full-blown, rosy lips, when a fine-looking young fellow, walking 
up to her, carrying in both hands a huge stone bottle, commonly 
called 'a grey neck/ briefly asked her for 'half a gallon of gin' ; 
which was no sooner measured and poured in than the money 
was rudely demanded before it could be taken away. 

" On the navvie declining to pay the exorbitant price asked, 
.the landlady, with a face like a peony, angrily told him he must 
either pay for the gin or instantly return it. 

" He silently chose the latter ; and accordingly, while the 
eyes of his antagonist were wrathfully fixed upon his, he returned 
into her measure the half-gallon, and then quietly walked off; but 
having previously put into his grey-neck half a gallon of water, 
each party eventually found themselves in possession of half a 
gallon of gin and water ; and, however either may have enjoyed 
the mixture, it is historically recorded in all Hillmorton that 
the landlady was never again heard unnecessarily to boast that 
no navvie could ' do ' her." 

The methods in which railway excavation work was executed 
on the Continent as compared with England, would have excited 
the scorn of the navvie. " Hereabouts," in the neighbourhood 
of Pisa, wrote William Chambers in 1862, "signs of railway con- 
struction are apparent. The digging is effected by a sort of 
adze, and the loosened material is deliberately lifted by a long- 
shanked scoop and carried away in small baskets on the heads 
of women and girls. A sorrowful spectacle, these bands of 
bare-footed female navvies, each in turn casting her modicum 
of earth to swell the slowly accumulating heaps," a service for 
which she was paid a few pence a day. Ordinarily, in con- 


structing railways the hollows are filled from the heights, " but 
here every spot is made to depend on itself ; the material for 
the excavations is piled mountains high, along the sides of the 
line, by that dreary basket-carrying process ; and, to form the 
embankments, acres of the adjoining fields are mercilessly 
stripped of several feet of their soil the waste of land, the toil, 
and the stupidity of the whole thing being absolutely pitiable." 

The contrast between the characteristics of the early makers 
of the French railways, and the English navigator, may also be 
illustrated : In excavating a portion of the first tunnel east 
of Rouen towards Paris, a French miner dressed in his blouse, 
and an English navvie in his white smock jacket, were 
suddenly buried alive together by the falling in of the earth 
behind them. Notwithstanding the violent commotion which 
the intelligence of the accident excited above ground, Mr. 
Meek, the English engineer who was constructing the work, 
after having quietly measured the distance from the shaft to the 
sunken ground, satisfied himself that if the men, at the moment 
of the accident, were at the head of " the drift " at which they 
were working, they would be safe. 

Accordingly, getting together as many French and English 
labourers as he could collect, he instantly commenced sinking 
a shaft, which was accomplished to the depth of fifty feet in the 
extraordinary short space of eleven hours, and the men were 
thus brought up to the surface alive. 

The Frenchman, on reaching the top, suddenly rushing 
forwards, hugged and embraced on both cheeks his friends and 
acquaintances, many of whom had assembled, and then, almost 
instantly overpowered by conflicting feelings, by the recollec- 
tion of the endless time he had been imprisoned, and by the 
joy of his release, he sat down on a log of timber, and putting 
both his hands before his face, he began to cry aloud most 

The English navvie sat himself down on the very same 
piece of timber took his pit-cap off his head slowly wiped 
with it the perspiration from his hair and face and then, look- 
ing for some seconds into the hole or shaft close beside him, 
through which he had been lifted, as if he were calculating the 
number of cubic yards that had been excavated, quite coolly, 
in broad Lancashire dialect, said to the crowd of French and 

NAVVIES. 1 4 1 

English who were staring at him as children and nursery-maids 
in our London Zoological Gardens stand gazing half terrified at 
the white bear : " Yaw've bean an infernal short toime abaaowt 

One of the most curious characteristics of navvies is their use 
of nicknames. It is said that a gentleman was once inquiring 
for the house of one Richard Millwood, or some such name, in a 
village, and just as the young woman who piloted him was 
about to give up the search in despair, she exclaimed, " Hang 
it ! thou means my feyther ! why doosn't thee ax for Old 
Blackbird ? " The names of navvies are very suddenly given, 
and are almost immovable. " I have known a simple fellow all 
at once styled * Rush/ after the notorious murderer, for no 
conceivable reason whatever, and by that name was he almost 
exclusively known afterwards. A gentleman an engineer 
once walked through his engine-shed, and saw three men by the 
furnace, apparently asleep. He hurried towards them to see 
who they were, but that mysterious telegraph which is always 
at work when the master is about, warned the men, and they 
ran off too quickly for him to get a sight of their faces. c Who 
were those ? ' he demanded of a man who was near the spot. 
Of course the man interrogated declared at first he did not 
know, but finding his superior very much in earnest, he admitted 
that he knew them ; that they were the Duke of Wellington, 
Cat's Meat, and Mary Anne ; and, preposterous as it may 
sound, he knew them by no other names. The nose of the first, 
the previous profession of the second, and the effeminate voice 
of the third, gained these attractive titles. So, one known as 
Gorger was so called because he had been seen to eat a whole 
shoulder of mutton ; Hedgehog had a whimsical resemblance to 
his namesake ; while, through singing a favourite negro melody, 
Uncle Ned had lived and was killed, known to very few by any 
other name." 

Of their extreme recklessness, as regards life or limb, numer- 
ous illustrations have been mentioned to the writer by engineers 
and contractors under whom they have served. In the forma- 
tion of the Kilsby tunnel, two or three were killed in trying to 
jump one after another across the mouth of the shafts, in a 
game of " Follow my Leader." When the Blisworth cutting 
was in course of excavation, and the material from thence was 


taken to the Wolverton embankment, the men were accustomed 
to ride down on the tip-wagons to their dinners, and in doing 
this the wagons not tmfrequently ran off the rails, and their 
contents, of workmen and stone, were precipitated in a hetero- 
geneous mass upon the ground. On one of these occasions 
a few days after a fatal accident under similar circumstances 
had taken place, some wagons were thrown off the rails, and 
several men buried beneath the limestone. One stalwart fellow 
scrambled out from the heap, and feeling his arm, said to a 
more fortunate comrade, " It's broke, I maun go home ; " and, 
after waiting to ascertain the fate of his fellow-sufferers, he 
strode off to his dwelling, six miles distant, supporting the 
broken limb with the sound one. A fine, handsome boy, who 
by the same accident had his foot crushed into a shapeless mass 
of flesh and bone, gave vent to his feelings by crying. A rough- 
looking ganger who stood by, took the pipe from his lips, and 
in a blunt, advisory way, said : " Crying 'ill do thee no good, 
lad ; " and then, as if acquainted with the mysteries of the 
scalpel, added, " thou'dst better have it cut off above the knee," 

Their coolness and daring was also extreme. A workman 
employed on the Scottish Central Railway had lighted the 
fusees connected with some charges of gunpowder by which a 
blast was to be effected, and having given the signal to be 
drawn up, the rope slipped, and the poor fellow was suspended 
but a few feet above the spot where the explosion was about to 
take place. His presence of mind, however, did not forsake 
him. He called out that he might be lowered again, and then 
approaching the burning fusees, he extinguished them one after 
another, and his life was saved. They had burned within half 
an inch of the powder ! 

It may be easily conceived that the management of large 
bodies of such men was no easy task to those on whom it 
devolved. Yet it has been found that a little tact and wit 
would ordinarily suffice, if judiciously employed, in guiding and 
subduing them, when any attempt at force would have been 
fatal either to the one party or the other. A bold demeanour, 
a few words of advice well applied, associated with a kind 
interest in them, almost invariably commanded their respect 
and obedience. A few illustrations may be mentioned. 

On one occasion the resident engineer, Mr. Shedlock, after- 

NAVVIES. 1 4 3 

wards the Rev. Jno. Shedlock, M.A., of Paris, on one portion 
of the Great Western Railway was engaged in some professional 
duties on the Saturday afternoon, when a messenger arrived at 
his house in breathless haste, and said that the men had been 
greatly enraged about some matter relating to their pay, and 
that they had left their work, and were coming down en masse. 
" Bring a horse," said the engineer ; and in a few minutes he 
galloped up to the scene of action, and met the whole gang, to 
the number of about three hundred, crossing the field with their 
tools on their shoulders. They were evidently extremely angry, 
and manifested their rage by the most terrible oaths and threats. 
Decisive measures were requisite. The engineer rode into the 
midst of them, and throwing the reins on the neck of his horse, 
exclaimed, in a voice which all could hear : " What are you 
doing here ? What is the use of your coming to complain to 
me ? You know I have nothing to do with your pay ; * I have 
only to see you do your work well. You know I am always 
your friend if you are in the right ; but you are not now, so go 
back and mind your work. And mark," he added, " if there is 
any row, or one drop of blood spilt, I shall know that you, and 
you [singling out two or three of them] are the ringleaders ! " 
The men knew their master, and turned back to the line ; yet 
it was only such a decisive course that kept that mass of men 
from enacting one of those scenes of drunkenness, violence, and 
debauchery which made them, in many cases, a terror to the 
neighbourhood. When once excited by liquor it was useless to 
attempt to restrain them ; the engineer never stopped then 
to parley with them, but as he passed along the roads on 
horseback, where the men might be standing in the way,- an 
authoritative "Whar off!" was the only remark made as the 
horseman rode past. 

Among those of the navvies who worked together for any 
length of time, there was much of what may be called a coarse 
kind of fine feeling. Accidents occurring to their companions 
sometimes produced strong manifestations of sympathy. On one 
occasion, Mr. Shedlock was standing near the edge of a deep 
gravel cutting, on the side of which some men were working. 
Suddenly a great mass of soil gave way at the top of the cut- 


* This was the contractor's business. 


ting, beginning within a few inches of the feet of the engineer, 
who escaped ; but one of them was crushed beneath the weight, 
another was flung into one of the trucks, and a third was hurled 
completely over them with great violence. So heavy was the 
mass of earth by which the first was killed, that a case-knife he 
had in his pocket was snapped in two. The accident occurred 
in a beautiful summer evening, and the men might, and would, 
under ordinary circumstances, have worked several hours longer, 
but so strong was their sympathy with their late companion that 
they refused to do so ; the night fires which had been kindled 
were extinguished, and they all went away with sad and heavy 
hearts to their habitations. 

That the men not only knew how to value a competent and 
kind master, but also to cherish a grateful feeling towards him, 
may be illustrated by the fact that when, during the formation 
of the Great Western Railway, a number of navvies broke open 
a Roman urn they had found, one of them seized with his huge 
grip a handful of some sixty silver coins, for which the men 
were scrambling, and said, " These are for Mr. Shedlock," to 
whom they were handed over. 

Mr. Chadwick has stated that the contracts for the execution 
of railway works were often undertaken at prices which the 
engineer, if he was a competent man, knew could not pay the 
contractors. " I have been informed," said he, of one piece of 
work undertaken by a few contractors, who will lose by the 
work itself, but who will make upwards of 7,000 by the truck* 
of beer and inferior provisions to the workmen. Here the 
interests of the contractors in the sale of beer were greater 
than in the good execution of the work, and men under their 
arrangements were often at work in a state of intoxication." 

The life and habits of the navvies in lonely places, during the 
period of railway construction, have been very low. Mr. Robert- 
son has stated that he was a witness of the condition of the men 
engaged in the formation of a large tunnel on the Sheffield, 
Ashton-under-Lyne, and Manchester Railway. There was no 
town or village in which the labourers could reside, and rude 
hovels were erected for their " accommodation " near the mouth 

* Sold under what is called the "truck" system, at a "tally" or beer and 
provision shop owned by the contractor or his " sub." 


of the shafts that penetrated the surface of the bleak moor, and 
at the two ends of the works. The huts were mostly composed 
of stones without mortar, and the roof was of thatch or flags, 
built by a workman who lodged a number of other labourers. 
As many as fourteen or fifteen men were in one hut that con- 
tained only two apartments. Some of the rooms were white- 
washed and cleanly ; others were filthy hovels ; and here from 
ten to fifteen hundred men were crowded together, for a period 
of six years. 

In some cases the conduct of the men led to open noting. On 
one occasion a conflict took place at Gorebridge, near Dalkeith, 
in which a policeman was killed by some Irish labourers. By 
way of retaliation, a thousand Scotchmen and Englishmen 
assembled, and after driving the "islanders" from the line, 
proceeded to burn down their turf and wooden huts, and the 
tumult was only quelled by the interference of a large body of 
police, aided by dragoons. When the pay-days of the English 
and Irish labourers engaged on the Lancaster and Carlisle line 
took place, it was several times found necessary to keep a regi- 
ment of infantry and a troop of yeomanry cavalry in readiness 
to prevent dangerous and perhaps fatal riots. 

It is only fair to add that there were, on the other hand, some 
excellent exceptions. In a report made to the magistrates of 
Bangor by the police authorities, it was stated that eight or ten 
collegians, who for some weeks had been residing in the town, 
had been more riotous and disorderly than all the six or seven 
hundred labourers employed within Bangor parish in making 
the Chester and Holyhead railroad. 

A touching incident was told us by Mr. Bayliss, the railway con- 
tractor. Just to the north, he said, of Bugsworth station, on the 
Ambergate and Manchester line, is a tunnel, and the men were 
making it. One day some of the directors and chief officers of 
the Midland Company went into the northern end to inspect 
the progress of the work. Having done so they left ; and they 
had scarcely done so when the end of the tunnel fell in with a 
crash. Having expressed their pleasure at their narrow escape, 
they were alarmed at the condition of those who were buried 
alive within. What was to be done ? To dig the whole of the 
tunnel entrance out again was in the time, and with the nature 
of the soil impossible, and the engineers resolved at once \o sink 



a short shaft from above through which the prisoners might be 
brought ; and, after some three and twenty hours of most 
strenuous work by relays, the men were reached. They were 
found to be lying, exhausted from want of air, upon the floor, 
and their candles were flickering in their sockets ; but they were 
saved. It was then learned that, when the tunnel end fell in, 
one of the men had exclaimed to the others : " Well, chaps, we 
shall never get out alive, so we may as well go on with ' our 
bit ' while we can." And they went on till they could go on no 

We will conclude this chapter with a vivid picture of the life 
of a colony of navvies, admirably sketched, we believe, by a 
writer of renown.* 

" After the late rains the sun rises in unclouded splendour, 
kindling into smiles the sullen dark green of the fells, and mak- 
ing rainbows of the mists that still linger around the summits 
of Ingleborough and Whernside, and wreathe themselves among 
the crags of Penyghent. The becks and gills which plunge 
impetuously down the steep mountain sides are so many rills of 
silver ; and as the sun falls upon the smoke that is lazily drifting 
upward from the chimneys of Batty Wife- hole, even that dismal 
abiding-place of navvies looks almost picturesque in the dis- 
tance. I am just in time to miss Mr. Ashwell, the contractor, 
who, I am told, has gone ' up the line ' ; and I set out to follow 
him. * The line ' is a temporary way which winds deviously 
across the hollow, already partly spanned by the huge skeleton 

" I scramble along somehow, through knee-deep bogs, on to 
piers whose foundations are just level with the surface, past 
batches of stone-hewers hammering away industriously at great 
blocks of blue stone for the piers of the viaduct ; then I find 
myself among these, and in the labyrinthine scaffolding that 
encircles them looking up at trucks and engines traversing 
tramroads at a dizzy height, at derricks and blocks and pulleys, 
at noisy little fixed engines, and at silent, busy masons. From 
the hollow below the viaduct I make my way somehow on to 
the embankment leading to it, and pick my road through the 
deep mire on its surface, now balancing myself on the rails that 

* Daily News, Oct. 29th, 1872. 


run along it, now making a stepping-stone of a sleeper, now 
plunging mid-leg into half-liquid mud. I find that the great 
tunnel is a mile and more from the end of the viaduct, and that 
the interval is composed partly of cutting through the wild 
high-lying moorland morass, with the deep gully of a stream on 
the left. I step aside to let engines pass with trains of trucks 
attached, full of earth or stones, the latter going on toward 
the viaduct, the former, waste as it is, being shot away down 
into the gully. 

" As I arrive at the beginning of a deep cutting, and pause 
in hesitation whether to go on or to turn back, there overtakes me 
the clergyman of the navvies, a wiry elderly gentleman with a 
long white beard. It would do a fashionable curate a world of 
good to undertake this worthy man's work for a few months in 
the winter season, traversing these miry cuttings, and plunging 
through the bogs and the marshes on visitation duties to the 
outlying navvie settlements. His headquarters are in Batty 
Wife-hole, his church being the school-room, and last Sunday 
evening, as he tells with- something like pride, he had a congre- 
gation of ninety. He is one of the missionaries of the Man- 
chester City Mission, and was detailed to this work on the appli- 
cation of the Midland Railway Company. Rough as the place is 
now, it must have been much rougher when he first came, some 
fifteen months ago. Drinking and fighting were all but uni- 
versal ; now they are of considerably less common occurrence. 
Still, in such work there is little encouragement to a clergyman, 
and his influence must be of a passive rather than of an active 
kind. Every one we passed greeted him civilly, some of the 
lads even with affectionate respect, and the old gentleman's face 
glowed again with pleasure when a gigantic navvie, whom he 
did not know, having sheepishly saluted him, said, in answer to 
a question, that he remembered him some years ago on some 
works in another part of the country. The 'parson/ as most 
called him, was plodding his muddy way up through Jericho, 
past the barracks ' up tunnel/ and so to Denthead at the opening 
into the further valley, to uplift the ' school money/ and bring 
it back to the treasury. Mr. Ashwell has organized a school 
system along his contract. At Batty Wife-hole there is a school- 
master, and at Jericho and Sebastopol schoolmistresges. A 
nominal school fee is charged, and he sustains the rest of the 


" We again miss Mr. Ashwell by a hair's-breadth, but meet 
Frank Moodie, his henchman, a stalwart Northumbrian, with a 
fine homely breadth of North-country accent, and a profound 
pride in his navvies. Frank has the portion of line between 
Sebastopol and Denthead, the heaviest work in the whole sec- 
tion. Hither come all the best men, where the work is all 
piecework, and best paid because it is the most severe. There 
has been a slip in a cutting, and twenty-five men are clearing 
out the slipped ground, working by the yard. As they toil they 
are the embodiment of physical force in its fullest development 
of concentrated energy. No man stops to lean for breath on 
the head of that pickaxe he wields so strenuously ; the heave of 
the shovels is like clock-work. The navvies, bare-throated, their 
massive torsos covered but' by the shirt, their strong, lissom loins 
lightly girt, and the muscles showing out on their shapely legs 
through the tight, short breeches, and the ribbed stockings that 
surmount the ankle-jacks, are the perfection of animal vigour. 
Finer men I never saw, and never hope to see. Man for man, 
they would fling our Guardsmen over their shoulders ; they have 
all the height and breadth of the best picked men in a Prussian 
Grenadier regiment of the Guards Corps, without their clumsi- 
ness. For there is no heaviness in the muscular strength of 
these navvies ; they sway to their work with as much supple- 
ness as a coal-porter sways under his load in unison with the 
vibration of the plank. Their countenances are manly and in- 
genuous, and as I look on them I can realize what an influence 
for good it is possible for such an one as the authoress of ' Eng- 
lish Hearts and English Hands,' to exercise over the stalwart, 
gentle-hearted, giant navvie. The stiff, greasy, blue-black clay 
melts away bit by bit from before their indomitable, energetic 
onslaught, each man working as if he wrought for his life. A 
' waster ' among such men would stand ignominiously confessed 
before the morning's work were half done. 

" Five and twenty more equally fine men are labouring on 
the face of a harder and deeper cutting a little farther on. 
Seven of them abreast are plying their picks with a persistent 
zeal that speaks of piecework in every stroke others are wheel- 
ing mighty barrow-loads over a narrow bridge, and tipping 
them down into a hollow. Moodie explains with pride that 
these two gangs are composed of the best men on the working. 

NAVVIES. 1 49 

No ganger is needed over them ; indeed, they would not brook 

"'The way the country has come to think now/ explains 
Moodie, 'good men wonna stand to be ordered about' only 
he uses a stronger expression. ' They wonna have a foreman 
cursing and bullying about among them.' And piecework 
saves the contractor the expense of supervision. All that is 
needed is to see that the levels are right, and to have an engi- 
neer to measure the work done every fortnight, against the pay- 
day settlement. They allot their duties among themselves, and 
' the best man ' among them is the man who can do the most 
work, and a skulker could not live among them for an hour. 
They are all Englishmen. I ask whether there are no Irish 
among them ? ' Irish ! ' is the reply. ' They'd take up an 
Irishman by the back of the neck and throw him over the bank 
into the river.' These men heap fuel lustily into the furnace of 
their vital energy. Many of them eat eighteen pounds of beef 
in the week. Beef is their fare. Mutton they reckon of little 
account, and bacon is only used to fill up the interstices. As 
we look at them, the ' tommy-truck ' makes its appearance be- 
hind an engine. It is a peak-roofed structure, like the cabins 
shepherds sleep in on the Downs, and it is full to the eaves of 
great sides of beef that have been sent up from Settle. A firm 
in Batty Wife-hole supply nearly the whole of the edibles to the 
navvie communities along this section, sending carts daily or 
bi-weekly across the moors to the different villages. There is 
no truck direct and hardly any inferential truck. I make no 
doubt any other tradesman, if he found it worth his while, 
might oppose the Batty Wife-hole ' tommy-shop/ 

" Bidding adieu to Jericho, after an outside inspection of a 
chaotic heap of stones, which I am profoundly surprised to find 
is hollow, and contains indeed what, for want of a better name, 
must be called a public-house, we return to the cutting, which is 
now nearing the mouth of the tunnel, and which as yet has not 
been excavated at this point within some thirty or forty feet of 
the intended level. Within a couple of chains of the mouth of 
the tunnel we come upon a shaft, down in the depths of which 
twenty-five Cornish and Devonshire miners are excavating to 
right and to left of them along the level intended for the per- 
manent way. They are working in blue-stone rock, hard as the 


nether millstone, not a spoonful, to use the phrase of my com- 
panion, comes out without powder. We hear the clink of their 
drills, and every now and then the dulled report of a blast. 
Tub after tub comes to the surface laden with jagged fragments 
of the stone. There is still the tunnel to be visited, where over 
some 500 men are steadily burrowing through the heart of the 
rocky Blea Moor, and where alone Irishmen labour alongside of 
Englishmen. But time does not serve for the present, and I 
should prefer to be accompanied in a visit to a work of so great 
magnitude by Mr. Ashwell himself. 

" I came up on foot, but Moodie undertakes that I shall be 
sent back on wheels. When a man in authority here desires to 
ride, he calls, not for his carnage, but for his engine. If he had 
guests, and chose, in imitation of the lavish gentleman with the 
curricles, to order more engines, I have no doubt that his behests 
would be fulfilled. ' Your engine waits,' says Moodie, and we 
ascend. We stand with our feet on a narrow ledge, and clutching 
with our hands a bar on either side of the boiler of the puff- 
ing, screeching, impetuous, and yet docile little ' Curlew/ and 
having had fastened on behind a few trucks containing stones, we 
move on. I need not say that the temporary rails laid down for 
service during the construction of a railroad, differ totally from 
an orthodox permanent way. You must lay your account with 
bumps, jerks, miscellaneous and incomprehensible wobbling, and 
a seemingly tipsified character of things in general. You go, as a 
matter of course, down declines that would make the hair on the 
head of a Government Inspector stand on end, and labour up 
inclines that would wind a foot passenger. Presently there is a 
shout, and the engine halts the last truck has lumbered off the 
rails. There is a rush of all surrounding hands, and it is prised 
and purchased back in an incredibly short time. We make 
progress, but at the top of an incline over against Sebastopol 
the engine itself quits the rails, and I quit it, preferring to per- 
form the rest of my journey on foot. Paying another passing 
visit to Sebastopol, I find in the rear of it an outlying suburb of 
excellent detached huts standing upon a dry gravelly soil. This 
suburb bears, I find, the high-sounding title of ' Belgravia/ and 
is probably the fashionable quarter of the settlement. 

" Returning through Batty Wife-hole, I encounter a gigantic 
navvie in a huge moleskin monkey-jacket, with a round bundle 


on his back, and a great deal more inside him than was good 
for him. He was about to quit this happy valley. He had 
begun drinking on Saturday, and had sedulously pursued that 
walk of life ever since, having drunk all his wages, a Whitney 
pea-jacket with mother-o'-pearl buttons, six flannel shirts, two 
white linen ditto, sundry pairs of stockings, a pair of boots, and 
a silver watch, with a gilt chain. Now he was going to try his 
luck elsewhere, with the meagre remnant of his kit contained in 
the little bundle on his shoulder. He insisted on treating me, 
and we tumbled over each other into one of the dogholes which 
do duty in Batty Wife-hole for tap-rooms. About half through 
the second pot, the tone of his conversation suddenly altered, 
and he developed the keenest anxiety to engage me in a 
pugilistic encounter, ultimately substituting for that aspiration 
a burning zeal to 'kick my head off.' The landlady came and 
addressed him in accents of gentle chiding, which he took so 
much to heart that he began to weep, accused me of being his 
brother, and having departed from his first impulse to kiss me 
in recognition of the relationship, ultimately went to sleep with 
his head on his bundle." 



Tunnels. Shape of Tunnels. Shafts. The Horse-Gin. Timbering. 
Driftways. Air Shafts in Kilsby Tunnel. " Cut and Cover " Tunnels. 
Cost of Tunnels. Vicissitudes of Tunnel Making. Drainage of 
Tunnels. Lining of Tunnels. Making of Tunnels. Box Tunnel. 
Woodhead Tunnel. Kilsby Tunnel The Deepest Tunnel in England. 
The Longest Tunnel in England. The Metropolitan Railway. A 
Tunnel Carried Under a Tunnel. Construction of the Underground 
Railway. Moorfields Chapel Underpinned. Potholes. Tunnel Under 
the Thames. Tunnel Under the Severn. Lost in a Tunnel. Length 
of Tunnels. The Channel Tunnel. Mont Genis Tunnel. St. Gothard 
Tunnel. Spruce Creek Tunnel. Shugborough Tunnel. 

N the construction of a railway 
of considerable length it is often 
found that tunnels are necessary. 
When the depth of the excavation, 
for some distance, is more than 
60 feet, it is usually economical 
to tunnel, unless the material 
happens to be required for some 
neighbouring embankment. Cost 
is the chief test in this matter ; 
for, in the advanced state of engineering, a tunnel may be made 
of almost any length, and through almost any substance, from 
granite to quicksand. 

One of the most important considerations in the formation of 
a tunnel is its size and shape. Its width on the narrow gauge 
should be about 30 feet ; and in depth it must extend 5 or 6 
feet below the intended line of the rails, so that space may be 
allowed for the inverted arch, the ballasting, and the drainage. 
Where, however, the excavation is carried through rock suffi- 
ciently hard to form the bottom and side walls, 25 to 26 feet in 
width, and about 26 feet in height are sufficient. The brick- 
work, from the invert upwards, is oval, whereby greater resist- 
ance to side pressure is obtained than if the side walls were 





The shape of the tunnel will also be determined 
by the nature of the ground 
through which it has to 
pass. In a wet quicksand 
approaching the nature of 
a fluid, the form will ap- 
proximate to that of a 

When a tunnel is about 
to be commenced, the cut- 
tings that approach the 
opposite ends are carried 
on towards the points where 
the boring is to begin ; and 
the men are set to work at 
the tunnel itself. Short 
tunnels are excavated from 
the ends only ; but when they are of considerable length, 
vertical shafts are sunk from the hill top down to the required 



level. This was formerly done with the aid of the horse-gin, 
now replaced by the steam-engine ; and, by the material raised, 


the engineer and the contractor learn the nature of the strata 
through which they have to pass. . The shafts are usually some 
9 feet in diameter, including the brickwork lining laid in cement 
9 inches in thickness. The ends of the bricks are towards the 
shaft. The brickwork of the sides is built in sections as the 
Workmen descend ; and when the shaft is carried to its full depth 
the lining, as it is called, is complete. When the shaft is finished 
the men proceed to execute the lateral excavations by first form- 
ing a drift way along the level of the upper part of the future 
tunnel, and this is sometimes continued through its entire length. 
It also has the advantage of showing the character and position 
of the strata, and the obstacles to be overcome. A driftway is 
occasionally made before the contract for the tunnelling is let. 

The manner in which the brickwork is laid is of great im- 
portance. In a quicksand it has been found necessary to make 
the lining twenty-seven inches thick in the sides and top, and 
eighteen inches in the invert, Roman cement being used. This, 
however, is not the greatest strength frequently required. Each 
brick should be well bedded with a wooden mallet ; and, when 
the curvature of the tunnel requires it, the bricks may be 
moulded of a taper form. In the arch they are laid in concentric 
rings, half a brick thick, taking care that the additional number 
of bricks requisite for each additional ring is inserted. 

Where the material tunnelled will stand without timbering 
as in the case of rock and chalk the operation of tunnelling is 
of the simplest character. The only thing against which it is 
especially necessary to guard, is the first displacement of the 
strata ; and this can generally be prevented with only slight 
timbering, judiciously placed. But if this be not watched and 
provided against in time, a slip of rock will perhaps take place 
and bring with it enough to leave a great cavern, which has 
to be filled up solidly in order to prevent future accident. The 
diagram shows the manner in which such tim- 
bering is arranged : and it is similar to that 
used in the Abbot's Cliff tunnel made through 
the lower chalk between Folkestone and Dover. 
The sides are first excavated, a pillar being left 
in the middle, which serves as a prop, from 
TEMPORARY PROPS w hich to support the roof, and also to carry the 

IN A TUNNEL. . t 1 

centres used in turning the arch. 


The arrangements made by which the several portions of a 
tunnel shall at last meet together, are such that the result is 
usually attained with surprising accuracy. This was tested on 
the Leicester and Swannington Railway in the following manner : 
Before the visit of the directors on the completion of the work, 
twenty-five candles were fixed at intervals along one side of the 
tunnel, at a distance of two inches and a half from the wall ; and 
when they were lighted it was found that their relative position 
did not vary a quarter of an inch from the required line. In the 
Bletchingly tunnel also, with eight shafts, it was only a single 
inch from a perfectly straight line. In a length of more than 
fifteen hundred feet between two shafts of the Box tunnel, which 
has an incline of one in a hundred, the junction of the two work- 
ings was perfectly effected as regards the level, and did not de- 
viate more than an inch and a quarter at the sides. The drift- 
ways of the principal tunnel of the Sheffield and Manchester 
Railway which goes for three miles through rock formation, 
and is at one part more than six hundred feet below the surface 
of the hill were also effected with great exactness. Five shafts 
were opened, from which the work was carried on ; and while 
these were in progress, driftways were made from each face of 
the mountain, extending to nearly a thousand yards at the 
eastern side, and a hundred and eighty yards from the next 
shaft. When these were completed, the levels were tested, and 
found to have varied less than an inch, and the range was within 
two inches of being geometrically true. Though the difficulty 
is greatly augmented in the formation of curved tunnels, yet 
extraordinary accuracy is attained ; and thus in those on the 
Glasgow and Greenock Railway at Bishopton, the deviation 
nowhere exceeded two inches. 

To prevent the accumulation of foul air in the workings of 
tunnels, and to assist in dispelling the otherwise impenetrable 
gloom, small air or light shafts of three or four feet in diameter 
are sometimes sunk by the contractors. They are formed in a 
similar manner to the working shafts, the masonry at the lower 
ends resting on a cast-iron ring secured in the roof of the tunnel. 
They are built, at the upper ends, about ten feet above the sur- 
face, and are coped with stone. 

In the Kilsby tunnel, more than a mile and a third in length, 
there are two large air-shafts, besides smaller ones. * Their 


appearance is curious. The visitor has perhaps walked from one 
end of the tunnel to the shaft, and when he reaches it, he hears 
a deep thunder muttering in the distance, and some advancing 
body is seen to darken the little horizon of the tunnel mouth, 
while the bright gleam of fire and the noise tell that it is a train. 
On it comes, the hollow walls flinging forward the sound, and 
condensing it into harsh murmur. He stands back in the 
recess of the shaft, where he can see the thundering mass as it 
approaches, emerge for a moment in the daylight of that spot, 


and then quickly disappear in the gloom of the opposite direction, 
with its red tail-lamps burning a sickly defiance to all behind. 

Overhead, a novel spectacle is witnessed. The long shaft 
towers far aloft, its dark sides sweating with the moisture from 
the hill which has forced its way between the bricks ; while 
far up the fleecy clouds pass over the face of the sky, or, inter- 
vening between the observer and the sun, send their long 
shadows down into the hollow cavern where he stands. These 
shafts seem as oases of light in the long and dreary pilgrimage 
of the dark tunnel. 


When a tunnel has been completed, it is usual for several of 
the shafts to be closed, a few being sufficient for ventilation. 
At Bletchingly tunnel all but one were left open, and at Salt- 
wood five were preserved ; the others were closed from just 
above the arch of the tunnel, and filled up with earth to the 
surface. The brickwork of the shafts is usually carried some 
height above the level of the ground, and is covered with a 
flat or domed iron grating, to prevent anything falling down, 
through carelessness or mischief. 

In carrying a tunnel through a hill, considerable expense has 
sometimes been saved by making horizontal galleries from the 
side of the tunnel to the face of the hill, and then by removing 
the excavated earth through them. The double tunnel through 
Shakespeare's Cliff, near Dover, on the South Eastern Railway, 
was constructed in this manner. Seven vertical shafts from the 
top of the hill were first sunk to the level of the line, and seven 
horizontal galleries were run from the face of the cliff to the 
"verticals." The two tunnels were then excavated parallel to 
the sea, from which they are distant four or five hundred feet. A 
road was previously formed along the front of the cliff to afford 
means of access for the workmen. The galleries were each 
about six feet wide, and seven high ; and the excavated chalk 
was conveyed along them in small tram-wagons, and tipped into 
the ocean. During the construction of the tunnel, the public 
were courteously permitted to visit the scene of operations, and 
the spectacle was impressive. On entering the bore, a lantern 
was furnished to the visitor, and he ventured as far within as 
his courage, or his lack of it, allowed. A slight glimmering 
of daylight tempted some onwards, but the darkness seemed 
only to be rendered " more visible " by the lantern. On reach- 
ing the first shaft daylight was enjoyed, though it came down 
an aperture nearly equal in height to the Monument of London. 
Seven times through the tunnel did the sun's beams thus break 
on the gloom of the long cavern ; and then the visitors whose 
perseverance was not exhausted, might see the extensive pre- 
parations that were then being made for continuing the line 
along the base of the cliffs near the sea-shore to Folkestone. 

It is here worthy of remark that all tunnels are not bored. 
Some are made on what is called the "cut and cover" principle 
by first making a cutting, and having this afterward? arched 


over and filled in. These are sometimes denominated open 
tunnels, an example of them may be found at Kensal Green, 
Haddon Hall, the Archway tunnel near Leicester, and under 
Camden Square, London. They are usually made where it is 
desired to avoid the permanent severance of valuable lands, 
or to conceal the line from observation. When formed, the 
sides of the cutting are made nearly vertical, and are kept in 
their place by timbers till the brick-work is finished. 

The cost of tunnels varies greatly. Those made for the old 
canals were less than 4 per lineal yard ; and for railways of 
the ordinary dimensions, they vary from 20 per yard in sand- 
stone rock when it does not require a lining up to 100 and 
160 per yard in loose ground, such as a quicksand, which may 
render it necessary to have brickwork lining of great thickness. 
The Kilsby tunnel cost about ^125 per yard. If they are freely 
worked, rocky strata are usually the cheapest for tunnelling, as 
gunpowder may be used, and masonry may be unnecessary. In 
the blastings at Bishopton, on the Glasgow, Paisley, and 
Greenock Railway, 314 tons of gunpowder were employed in a 
length of 2,300 yards in whinstone, some veins of which were 
so difficult to work, that the rate of progress at each face of 
the excavation varied from three feet six inches to six inches 
only a day. 

Tunnelling in clay is often expensive and difficult. When 
tough it is difficult to work ; blasting is of no avail, and spades 
and pickaxes are almost useless. Lecount states that hatchets 
may be employed to advantage, but that cross-cut saws best 
answer the purpose. The difficulties which the working of this 
material presents were illustrated in the case of the Primrose Hill 
tunnel, which is in the London clay. The engineers adopted 
the precaution of excavating only nine feet in advance of the 
brickwork, and supporting the clay by very strong timbering 
till the arching was completed. The mobility and pressure of 
the moist clay, however, was such as actually to squeeze the 
mortar out of the joints, and to bring the inner edges of the 
bricks in contact. The result was, that the bricks were, by 
degrees, ground to dust, and the dimensions of the tunnel were 
insensibly but irresistibly contracted. The only remedy was 
the use of very hard bricks laid in Roman cement, which set 
before the pressure became great enough to force them into 


contact, and enabled the whole surface to resist the pressure. 
The thickness of the brickwork was increased almost through- 
out to twenty-seven inches. 

Danger arises in the making of tunnels from slips. In the 
construction of the Fareham tunnel on the Gosport branch, 
a fall of the earth carried away about forty yards in length of 
the brick arching, though it was three feet thick. In tunnels 
made through chalk, it is necessary to act with great caution, 
as it sometimes contains large holes filled with gravel, which, 
on being opened pours like water upon the unsuspecting miner. 
Thus in the Watford tunnel, which passes through the upper 
chalk formation, covered with a thick irregular bed of gravel, 
such breakings-in occasioned great inconvenience and one 
serious accident. In the chalk were fissures, sometimes a 
hundred feet in depth, filled with gravel, which when worked 
into, "rushed down with such violence as to plough the sides 
of the tunnel as if bullets had been shot against it." Such a 
fall took place at the foot of one of the working shafts, over- 
whelmed ten men, and led to the construction of the large 
ventilating shaft near the centre of the tunnel. 

The vicissitudes with which engineers have to deal in tunnel 
making are varied, unexpected and interesting. "When you 
gentlemen have an easy job and all your own way," we remarked 
to the Midland "Resident" at Kirkby Stephen, on the Settle 
and Carlisle, " you are rather dull, but when you get into a mess 
and have to get out of it, you are delightful. What is the 
greatest mess you ever were in on this railway ? " " Well," he 
replied, after a pause, "the greatest mess I ever was in was 
when we were making Birkett tunnel. The rock was so hard 
and firm that we thought it would stand without lining; but 
suddenly the roof in one place came down and made a hole 
sixty feet high." "Sixty feet high," we said contemplatively, 
"how high is that ash tree by the pond ?" "About thirty," he 
answered, "the hole in the roof of the tunnel was about twice 
as big as that ash tree. And we had to fill it up." " Fill it 
up ! " we exclaimed. " It is easy to fill up a hole that is down 
in the ground, but how could you fill one that is up in a 
mountain over your head ? " " We put timbers sleepers and 
what not across from rock to rock, beginning at the highest 
part of the hole and working downwards, so that no more rock 


should fall ; then we arched the roof round ; bedded the top 
of the arch with debris of all sorts, so that if anything fell it 
should not injure it. We left nothing overhead but a hole in 
the crown of the arch big enough for the last workman to craw] 
through ; and then we filled that up also." 

In making tunnels the drainage must be good. A drain with 
the joints slightly open, so as to admit the water from the 
ballasting, is laid along the centre of the road, and the water 
that percolates through the brickwork is conducted into it by 
the various contrivances that have been adopted to prevent the 
inroads of water into tunnels. At the Cheviot tunnel near 
Wakefield, it has been necessary to line the roof with sheet 
lead ; and in the Beechwood tunnel of the London and Birming- 
ham line, an interior lining of brickwork nine inches thick has 
been made, behind which is a system of drainage. 

The firmness of the native material, has, in some instances, 
allowed lining to tunnels to be dispensed with. This is the case 
with the Penmaenbach tunnel on the Chester and Holyhead 
line. The excavation is through basaltic rock, and has upright 
sides and a semicircular top. The Bangor tunnel was also at 
first considered to be sufficiently solid, but having subsequently 
shown signs of instability, Mr. Stephenson ordered it to be lined 
with brick. So matured has been the experience of engineers 
in the work of tunnel making, that in the formation of the 
Caledonian Railway, the tunnel under the hill to the north 
of Glasgow was safely conducted over the Edinburgh and 
Glasgow Railway and under the Monkland canal, and within 
a few feet of both. Several years after the opening of the 
Midland lines to Manchester, and also to Carlisle, it was found 
necessary to line the stone tunnels with brickwork. It was a 
very troublesome task, having to be carried on while the full 
service of trains was running. 

To gain an adequate idea of the peculiarities of tunnel 
making, the scene should be visited ; and it will then be found 
that operations are going on in what may be called the bowels 
of mountains full of striking interest. At the mouth of the 
shaft will be seen the ponderous engine and pumping-gear, and 
an immense mound of rock or earth-spoil, from the tunnelling 
below. Here are also temporary buildings for the use of the 
contractors and their men, and other indications of the magni- 


tude of the undertaking. Permission having been duly obtained 
of the authorities, and the assistance of a guide secured, the 
visitor takes a candle stuck in a lump of clay, and prepares for 
his subterranean journey. Having deposited himself in a tub, 
and overcome the giddiness which the descent may induce, he 
observes the lining of the shaft, and the straining of the pumps 
essaying to lift the volume of water continually pouring down 
from the crevices and fissures of the earth or rock. This creates 
a sort of Scotch mist, sufficient to wet a " Southern man " to the 
skin ; but, what is remarkable, it does not extinguish the fragile 
candles, which burn with singular brilliancy. Having descended 
to the level of the tunnel itself, this may be explored in either 
direction. The scene presented fills the stranger with wonder 
and awe. A great number of men are at work, dimly lighted 
by innumerable " dips," stuck in all directions. Some men are 
at the driftways ; others are picking the earth from the sides, 
others, with barrows, are wheeling the stuff out of the way of the 
miners ; while ever and anon the blasting of the rock with gun- 
powder or dynamite, the crash of the solid material riven in pieces, 
the fall of the masses, and the reverberation echoing through 
the gloomy caverns, are sufficient to fill those unused to such 
scenes with awe or alarm, and to leave an impression not easily 
effaced. Nor should the undertaking be recommended to those 
who are not prepared to encounter some risks, and who have 
not a strong inclination for the adventurous. 

On one occasion some of the directors of the Great Western 
Railway were inspecting the works at the Box tunnel, and 
several of them resolved to descend a shaft with Mr. Brunei 
and one or two other engineers, who mentioned the incident to 
the writer. Accordingly all but one ensconced themselves in 
the tub provided for that purpose, he declined to accompany 
them. His friends rallied him for his want of courage, and one 
slyly suggested " Did your wife forbid you before you started ? " 
A quiet nod in response intimated that the right nail, had been 
struck, and the revelation was received with a merry laugh. 
But as the pilgrims found themselves slipping about a greasy, 
muddy tub, jolting and shaking as the horses stopped by 
whose aid they were lowered, and how at length they were 
suspended some hundred and fifty feet from the bottom, till 
the blastings that had been prepared roared and reverberated 



through the " long-drawn caverns," more than one of the party 
who had laughed before, wished that they had received a similar 
prohibition to that of their friend above, and that 'they had 
manifested an equal amount of marital docility. 

The Box tunnel, between Chippenham and Bath, was long 
regarded as one of the most remarkable railway works. It is 
some 3,200 yards in length, and part of it is 400 feet below the 
surface of the hill through which it passes. Thirteen shafts 
were required in its construction for the work and for ventila- 
tion ; the material excavated amounted to 414,000 cubic yards, 
and the brickwork and masonry was more than 54,000 yards. 
The number of bricks used was 30,000,000 ; a ton of gunpowder 
and a ton of candles were consumed every week for two years 
and a half in blasting and lighting, and 1,100 men and 250 horses 
were constantly employed. For a considerable distance the 
tunnel passes through freestone rock, from the fissures of which 
water flowed so freely that, in November, 1837, the steam-engine 
used to pump it out proved insufficient, one division of the 
tunnel was filled, the water rose fifty-six feet high in the shaft, 
and it was found necessary to suspend operations till the 
following midsummer, when a second engine of fifty-horse 
power was brought to the assistance of its brother leviathan, 
and the works were cleared. Another irruption took place, and 
the water was then pumped out at the rate of thirty-two thou- 
sand hogsheads a day. 

The Summit tunnel of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincoln- 
shire railway, although, in capacity, one of the smallest, is one 
of the longest tunnels in England. It is more than three 
miles in length. It is near the point where Cheshire, Yorkshire, 
and Derbyshire unite, one end is near the village of Wood- 
head, in Cheshire, and the other in Yorkshire, and it passes 
under a bleak hilly moor, covered chiefly with dark heath and 
bog, barren and dreary in the extreme. The tunnel was formed 
by the aid of five vertical shafts sunk from the surface of the 
moor, averaging nearly 600 feet in depth. Around these and 
the two ends were clustered the huts that served as the tem- 
porary homes of the workmen a sort of scattered encampment 
between two and three miles long. The tunnel was about six 
years in progress, and during that time the number of men 
employed underwent considerable fluctuations : at one time 


there were as many as 1,500. As the tunnel passes chiefly 
through sandstone and millstone grit, the enormous quantity 
of 3,485 barrels, or upwards of 157 tons of gunpowder, were 
employed in blasting ; and nearly 8,000,000 tons of water had 
to be pumped out during the progress of the work. Most of 
the excavated rock had to be hoisted by steam engines a 
height of about 600 feet to the top of the shaft. 

The Kilsby tunnel, through the Kilsby ridge and south of 
Rugby, was another of the earliest and most difficult tunnelling 
works. The hill had been tested by trial shafts ; was found to 
consist of oolite shale ; and was let as such to the contractor. 
But between the shafts, under a bed of clay forty feet thick, lay 
a quicksand, and when the men pierced it a deluge of water 
burst down upon them through which they had to struggle and 
swim for their lives. Steam engines of 160 horse-power had to 
be erected ; eventually they pumped it out at the rate of 1,800 
gallons a minute for eight months, a quantity estimated to be 
equal to the Thames at high water between London and Wool- 
wich ; and 157 tons of gunpowder had been consumed in 
blasting before the tunnel was finished. The number of bricks 
required for that tunnel alone was 36,000,000 enough to make 
a footpath a yard wide from London to Aberdeen. Meanwhile 
the expense rose, from the original estimate of 99,000 to an 
actual outlay of 100 a lineal yard forwards, or a total sum of 
nearly 300,000. The contractor was so overwhelmed by the 
difficulties of the work that he took to his bed ; and, though 
released by the company from his obligations, he died. 

The deepest tunnel in England is that which passes through 
the range of hills between Great Malvern and Herefordshire. 
It is 600 feet from floor to surface, and is 1,560 yards in length ; 
it is wide enough for only a single pair of rails.. The geological 
strata through which it runs are 163 yards of marl, 700 yards of 
syenite, and nearly 700 of limestone. The marl beds at the 
entrance are overlaid by a considerable thickness of debris from 
the chain of the Malverns, and above this is a strong, tenacious 
clay, containing bones and teeth of the rhinoceros and mam- 
moth. In another tunnel in the same district are remarkable 
geological formations. It is not far from Ledbury station, and 
is 1,660 yards long. "Nowhere in the world," says Symonds, 
" is there exhibited such a view of the passage rocks between 


the Silurian and Old Red systems as at the entrance to this 
lunnel. The fossils are abundant." 

The longest tunnel in England is on the London and North 
Western. It passes through a range of hills bearing the name 
of Stand Edge separating Marsden on the Yorkshire side and 
Diggle on the Lancashire side. It has three tunnels running 
through it one belonging to a canal, and the other two for the 
purposes of the railway. The first was completed in 1818; its 
length being three miles and 171 yards. The first of the two 
railway tunnels was completed in November, 1848 ; and its cost 
was 200, ooo. The new tunnel was commenced in 1868, and 
was completed in 1870. Its length is 5,435 yards, one yard less 
than its twin tunnel. The height of the tunnel inside the brick- 
work is twenty feet, and the width fifteen feet. The bricks used 
were nearly 17,000,000, the weight of them was 68,000 tons ; 
6,000 tons of coal, 170,000 pounds of powder, 100,000 pounds of 
candles, 6,000 gallons of oil, and vast quantities of timber were 
consumed. For the conveyance of the material used in the 
construction of the tunnels twenty-five boats and four steam- 
boats were constantly plying, and an immense expense had to 
be incurred in erecting huts, providing business offices, and 
putting down plant for economising labour. 

But perhaps the most noteworthy of all tunnels is the 
Metropolitan or Underground Railway. When it was first 
proposed, the idea of a railway for human beings to travel along 
under the streets and among the sewers was regarded with 
amusement if not contempt. The omnibus and cab interests, as 
represented by their drivers, forgetting what their predecessors 
the stage coachmen had done under similar circumstances, were 
eminently facetious on the various aspects of the subject, and 
many jokes, good and bad, were made thereon. 

Railway work in the open has difficulties enough, but the 
bed of a London thoroughfare has been compared to the 
human body full of veins and arteries which it is death to 
cut. No sooner is the ground opened than these channels 
of gas and water, of sewers and telegraphs are seen " as close 
together as the pipes of a church organ." The engineers of 
the Metropolitan Railway had, to begin with, to remove these 
old channels to the sides of the roadway, and then to cut 
their way between, " with the delicacy of a surgical operation." 


Near King's Cross a special difficulty presented itself in the 
form of the old Fleet Ditch a stream of sewage flowing from 
50,000 houses from Highgate to the Thames. This "black 
Styx of London " often in stormy weather rises six feet in 
an hour, and its force is particularly felt at King's Cross, which 
lies at the bottom of the Highgate slope. When the Metro- 
politan line was afterwards enlarged for the accommodation 
of the Midland and Great Northern lines, the Fleet sewer 
was carried along a huge boiler-like tube without the spilling 


of " one drop of Christian " sewage ; but the Metropolitan in 
its earlier experiences was not so fortunate. 

The work of constructing this remarkable railway eventually 
became, as it must be allowed, somewhat wearisome to the 
inhabitants of the New Road. A few wooden houses on wheels 
first made their appearance, and planted themselves by the 
gutter ; then came some wagons loaded with iimber, and 
accompanied by sundry gravel- coloured men with picks and 


shovels. A day or two afterwards a few hundred yards of road- 
way were enclosed, the ordinary traffic being, of course, driven 
into the side streets ; then followed troops of navvies, horses, 
and engines arrived, who soon disappeared within the enclosure 
and down the shafts. The exact operations could be but dimly 
seen or heard from the street by the curious observer who gazed 
between the tall boards that shut him out ; but paterfamilias, 
from his house hard by, could look down on an infinite chaos 
of timber, shaft holes, ascending and descending chains and 
iron buckets which brought rubbish from below to be carted 
away ; or perhaps one morning he found workmen had been 
kindly shoring up his family abode with huge timbers to make 
it safer. "A wet week comes, and the gravel in his front 
garden turns to clay ; the tradespeople tread it backwards and 
forwards to and from the street door ; he can hardly get out to 
business or home to supper without slipping, and he strongly 
objects to a temporary way of wet planks, erected for his use 
and the use of the passers-by, over a yawning cavern under- 
neath the pavement." Meanwhile Mr. Jay, the contractor, was 
pushing on with the works as fast as he could, but he was a 
busy gentleman who was also building government fortifications 
at Portland, and a railroad in Wales, besides other undertakings 
elsewhere ; but at last, after much labour and many vicissi- 
tudes, even the Underground Railway was completed. 

When the extension of the Metropolitan was made to Aldgate, 
some special difficulties occurred at one spot. It was thus 
described by Sir E. W. Watkin in 1875 : "I will give you," he 
said, "only one illustration of the cost and time occupied by 
some of these works. It was in carrying the line under the 
Roman Catholic chapel in Moorfields. By an Act of Parliament, 
with which the present board had nothing to do, there was a 
series of clauses under which we were bound to maintain the 
structure of this Catholic chapel exactly as it stood ; we were 
not to be permitted to pull it down, but up it must remain, 
under all possible circumstances which might arise in the con- 
struction of our works. The chapel had been built upon Moor- 
fields when it was a moor, with the usual amount of bog, and 
had been constructed on piles, and in process of time these piles 
got of less service in their position. Some few years ago the 
architect put upon the roof a tremendously heavy concrete roof 


which made the building top-heavy; and, having no secure 
foundation, we had to under-pin the whole of the chapel some 
thirty feet deep down to the London clay before we could con- 
struct an inch of the railway. In doing that to a large structure 
it got cracked in various places, and two or three valuable 
fresco pictures were damaged. In addition to that, every effort 
was made by the good people to get as good a church, at youf 
expense, out of that transaction as possible. I don't exactly 
blame them, but I am able to say that the worthy gentlemen 
and ladies worshipping there have a brand new edifice at the 
entire cost of the Metropolitan Railway, and I hope you will 
be well prayed for, for, I assure you, you deserve it. We paid 
the Rev. Dr. Gilbert, for the reinstatement of the interior of the 
chapel, 4,000 ; the engineer's estimate of the cost of under- 
pinning the works is 8,000; we have had to provide for this 
congregation in the interim a temporary church at a cost of 
1,023 ; we have had to pay to the arbitrator 540 for his 
services ; 100 guineas to the solicitor ; and there is a claim made 
by the architect for 900 for his charges, which we have not yet 
disbursed. Altogether we have to spend 14,500 for dealing 
with one structure only in the completion of this short piece of 
railway of about 600 or 700 yards between Moorgate Street and 
Bishopgate Street stations. I won't say anything about another 
cost in reference to Finsbury chapel, for, in comparison, it is 
moderate, about 1,000." 

But if the Metropolitan tunnel line under the streets of 
London is a striking, though familiar, fact ; more remarkable 
still is it to find a tunnel under a tunnel under the streets of 
London. Yet so it is. When the traveller by the Midland 
Railway arrives at Kentish Town and proceeds to Moorgate 
Street, he passes under two railways at St. Pancras one above 
the other and soon finds himself at the King's Cross station, on 
the north side of the Metropolitan line. The train again starts, 
runs for a few minutes, and emerging from a tunnel, the traveller 
is now on the south side of the Metropolitan ; in that short 
distance he has passed under the Underground. Our engraving 
on the next page indicates the arrangements. It shows the 
double line of the Midland, which extends from Camden Town 
station, and the single line tunnels of the Great Northern, 
about half a mile long, that come from the King's Cross ter- 

1 68 


minus. Between the Midland and the Great Northern lines are 
several cross tunnels " a perfect rabbit warren of them," as an 
engineer remarked to us but they are little used. The Midland, 
the Great Northern, and the Dover and Chatham trains run from 


the King's Cross (Metropolitan) station, parallel with the original 
Metropolitan line proper for a distance of about 1,000 yards ; 
they then descend by an incline of I in 100 until they have passed 
through a tunnel under the Metropolitan, and then they rise by 


a steep slope 230 yards long of i in 40 * up to Farringdon station ; 
or, rather, three feet below the level of the Farringdon station of 
the Metropolitan proper. The difference between the rails of 
the two lines at the bottom of the dip is sixteen feet and a few 

Under the Smithfield Market, too, there is a most intricate 
arrangement of tunnel works. Here, in pitch darkness, except 
for the light of the lamps, are three main lines and three goods 
stations on each side of the line ; and all with curves, points, 
cranes, signals, and sidings. 

Another railway tunnel in the metropolis is of special interest 
It belongs to the East London Railway. In the early part of 
this century complaints were made of the want of means of 
communication between the north-eastern and south-eastern 
parts of the metropolis ; and, to diminish this inconvenience, it 
was determined to make a tunnel under the Thames, from 
Rotherhithe to Wapping. The tunnel was begun ; more than 
nine hundred feet were completed, and only one hundred and 
fifty feet remained to be bored, when, meeting with quicksands, 
the engineer gave up the work in despair. The experience, 
however, that had been acquired enabled Mr. Brunei to over- 
come the final difficulties ; and in 1843, at a cost of nearly 
^"470,000, the Thames tunnel was finished. For thirty years it 
was visited as a curiosity ; but commercially it was a failure. 
At length it was proposed that a railway the East London 
should be carried through it, and that, thereby, a connection 
should be established between the Great Eastern system and 
the South London lines near New Cross, and after enormous 
difficulties the work was done. 

The construction of a railway tunnel under the Severn was 
sanctioned by Parliament in 1872. When Mr. Brunei carried 
the Great Western Railway system to Bristol, he proposed to 
connect it with that in South Wales by means of a steam ferry 
of such dimensions, and with such approaches, that loaded rail- 
way trucks could be run on board a boat and conveyed across 
the river without delay. Mr. Brunei died before his plans could 
be carried out. Subsequently it became evident that the 
original scheme was untenable ; that passenger traffic only could 
. *. 

* At one spot it is i in 39, 


be provided for by ferry ; that heavy goods, if carried at all, 
must go by a bridge or a tunnel. Bridges over the channel have 
been provided ; and it has been ascertained that the conditions 
are favourable for a tunnel. The bottom of the river consists of 
a well-known series of rocks, in great part horizontal, and 
practically homogeneous. But the magnitude of the work and 
of the cost long prevented its being undertaken. In the year 
1864, plans for the tunnel were deposited, and other preliminary 
steps were taken to obtain an Act, but want of funds stopped 
the way, and the Bill fell through. A second and similar 
attempt was made in 1870, with a like result. Two years later 
the necessary powers were granted to the Great Western Com- 

In the first instance a "heading" has been driven throughout, 
a long and toilsome seven years' task, during which Mr. C 
Richardson earned for himself the name of " the Father of the 
Severn Tunnel." The width of the stream where the crossing 
takes place is rather more than two miles and a quarter. It is in- 
tended that the tunnel shall be quite level beneath the " Shoots," 
a length of about twelve chains. The gradient of approach 
from the Welsh side will be one in ninety feet, and from the 
English side one in a hundred feet. The length of the tunnel, 
including approaches, is four miles and a half. The length of 
the contract for tunnel and open cuttings is seven miles and 
five furlongs. The tunnel under the river will be perfectly 
straight, and the curve in the approaches will be simple. The 
whole of the tunnel will be lined with brickwork, varying from 
twenty-seven inches to three feet in thickness. Some 200,000 
bricks per week are being made out of clay shale extracted 
from the shafts, and many of the hard blue Staffordshire 
" clinkers " are also used. About 60,000,000 will be required, 
and all are to be laid in Portland cement. The roof is semi- 
circular. The side walls are segmental, the invert also, and 
both of twenty-one feet six inches radius. The dimensions of 
the tunnel are : extreme width inside, twenty-six feet ; extreme 
height inside, twenty-four feet six inches ; height of roof above 
the rails, twenty feet. The line will be double, and manholes 
will be inserted every twenty-two yards.* 

* The Railway A T ew?. 


On Oct. 6th, 1879, a serious difficulty was encountered. " In 
a part of the approach to the tunnel," says Dr. Yeats, " 400 
yards from the river's edge on the Monmouthshire side, a small 
subterranean watercourse had to be crossed. The discharge, 
fully 5,000 gallons per minute, could not be controlled by the 
force at hand ; and in about twenty-eight hours the labour of 
seven years was seemingly lost. The shaft and the whole of 
the excavation under the Severn were flooded, as far as ad- 
vanced, and progress was stopped from Oct., 1879, to Feb., 
1 88 1. But, though disappointed, the directors of the Great 
Western Railway Company were not disheartened. The rush 
of water was from the open country ; probably a part of the 
concealed drainage of Wentwood Forest, and might be diverted 
in its course. Sir John Hawkshaw was consulted, and induced 
to take up the matter. Two brick dams of great thickness and 
strength were built across the heading down which the water 
had flowed, so shutting off further approach to the shafts and 
the works under the Severn. Pumping engines of enormous 
power were applied ; the outthrow was soon greater than the 
infall ; gradually the shafts and the works under the Severn 
were cleared, and excavating could be resumed. It was while 
clearing these last, that Fleuss's diving apparatus was employed. 
Provided withal, the contractor's chief diver, Mr. Lambert, de- 
scended the Sudbrook shaft, carrying a crowbar, etc., and made 
his way alone along the flooded heading and the floating timber 
until he reached a door that required closing. It was more 
than 1,000 feet distant, and could not be moved on its hinges 
without great exertion, and without first tearing up the tub- 
tramway on the floor. But he accomplished the task, coolly 
and courageously, to the admiration of all who were aware of 
the difficulties, and who knew how much depended on his 
success or failure." 

If to walk through an ordinary tunnel without proper pre- 
cautions is dangerous, we are not surprised at the painful 
experiences of one who, in November, 1876, was lost in the 
Underground Railway. Halfway through the tunnel that ex- 
tends from King's Cross to Gower Street station is a signal box. 
About nine o'clock one night the signalman observed the form 
of an old man tottering towards him. He was wet to the skin 
with water that had run down the walls of the tunnel, against 


which he had squeezed himself to escape the passing trains. 
The King's Cross inspector was sent for, and Jones, for that was 
his name, was taken to the station, and thence to St. Pancras 
workhouse, to which he belonged. He had, it appears, obtained 
special leave to visit some friends at Irongate Wharf, and had 
booked from King's Cross and back. On the return journey a 
gentleman in the compartment appeared to take an interest in 
him, and just after they had passed Gower Street station asked 
where he was going. On saying that he was going to St. Pan- 
cras workhouse, the gentleman said, " Oh, you ought to have 
got out at Gower Street ; it is much nearer." On reaching the 
King's Cross station and getting out, the old man asked the 
gentleman which was the way to Gower Street, and the latter, 
pointing the way of the tunnel through which the train had just 
come, said "That way." Jones went in that direction, and find- 
ing there was an incline leading under the arch, went down it, 
and though he found it getting darker and darker, yet seeing 
what he thought were lights in the distance, he proceeded, as he 
knew there were railway arches in the Pancras Road. As he 
went on, finding there were trains running backwards and for- 
wards, he became bewildered ; but, for safety, he crouched close 
to the wall of the tunnel, and frequently had the greatest diffi- 
culty in escaping, as he felt that many of the trains touched him as 
they rushed by. He believes there must have been as many as 
two hundred trains pass and re-pass him during the time he was 
in the tunnel ; but in this, of course, he was mistaken. Feeling 
that his end was certain, he prayed and sang to allay his fears. 
At the intervals when there was no train coming, he kept grop- 
ing his way along, and when he saw one advancing he screwed 
himself up as close as possible to the wall. He did not know 
where he was going, but presently he saw a man with a lantern, 
and he felt his deliverance was at hand. He hastened towards 
the man with all the speed his exhausted state allowed, and, 
fortunately, at the same time, the man saw him. He was 
perfectly sober, and could not account for getting into the 
tunnel except that he took it for a railway arch leading to 
Gower Street. 

The ventilation of tunnels is becoming a matter of practical 
moment, and various schemes have been devised to supply pure 
air instead of foul in, for instance, the tunnels under the Alps 


and under London. The means hitherto proposed have gener- 
ally been mechanical ; Dr. Neale has urged that others should be 
adopted that are chemical. The human lung absorbs oxygen 
and gives off carbonic acid gas ; let us, it has been said, create a 
chemical " lung " which would reverse that process and purify 
the air. The principal deleterious gases in railway tunnels are 
carbonic acid, sulphurous gases, and carbonic oxide. Into a flask 
rilled with this mixture Dr. Neale poured a small quantity of 
solution of caustic soda, and after shaking the flask briskly for a 
few seconds the offensive smell was found to have disappeared. 
" Into the same flask a current of carbonic acid gas was next 
passed, so that a lighted taper introduced into the flask was at 
once extinguished. After a few shakings a lighted taper was 
again introduced, and burnt with a bright, steady flame, showing 
that the soda had taken up the acid." It is suggested that loco- 
motive engines might be supplied with a tank containing a strong 
solution of caustic soda or lime, through which the smoke would 
be made to pass before being discharged into the outer air, and 
that by this means the carbonic acid gas and the sulphur would 
be eliminated. Each train might also be furnished with a truck 
open at both ends, fitted with trays or other contrivances for 
holding solutions of lime or soda. As the train advanced, air 
would rush through the trays, and be robbed of its carbonic acid 
and sulphur. Of the practicability of the scheme the Lancet 
says it is as happy as it is ingenious, and at once simple and 

The following are some of the tunnels in England over 1,000 
yards in length : 


Box, near Bath . . . (Great Western) . . 3,203 

Sapperton, near Swindon . . (ditto) . . . 2,200 

Clayton . . . (London and Brighton) . 2,252 

Merstham (ditto) . . 1,830 

Balcombe (ditto) . . . 1,133 

Rotherfield (ditto) . . . 1,020 

Sevenoaks, near Folkestone (South Eastern) . . 3,451 

Abbot's Cliff, near Dover . . (ditto) . . . 1,933 

Shakespeare Cliff . . . (ditto) . . . 1,342 
Shepherd's Well, near Dover (London, Chatham, and 

Dover) 2,376 

Sydenham Hill .... (ditto) . . . 2,200 

Ramsgate (ditto) . . ^,630 

Stand Edge . . (London and North Western) . 5,435 



Honiton . . (London and South Western) . 1,881 

Midford (ditto) . . .1,813 

Guildford (ditto) . . . 1,045 

Summit, near Rochdale (Lancashire and Yorkshire) . 2,968 

Lough, near Bolton . . . (ditto) . . 2,018 

Woolley, near Wakeficld . . (ditto) . . . 1,685 

Dove Holes . . . (Midland) . . 3,000 

Blea Moor (ditto) . . . 2,600 

Clay Cross (ditto) . . . 1,826 

Belsize (ditto) . . . 1,800 

Haddon (ditto) . . . 1,210 

Elstree (ditto) . . . 1,100 

Bramhope, near Leeds . . (North Eastern) . . 3,670 

Having now referred to the tunnels in England, we might 
describe that which it is proposed shall lead out of it under 
the Straits of Dover to the Continent itself. We might dwell 
upon many geological, practical, commercial, and even military 
considerations concerning the Channel tunnel, that have lately 
occupied a large share of public attention ; but as the under- 
taking is at present in abeyance, we may content ourselves with 
only a brief reference to the subject. The circular entrance 
shaft to the experimental tunnel is sunk in the chalk cliff at 
the foot of the "Shakespeare Cliff," between Folkestone and 
Dover, is about 150 feet in depth, and is boarded round. The 
descending apparatus is a rope and a cage capable of holding 
four or five persons, worked by a steam engine. At the bottom 
is a square chamber in the grey chalk, the sides of which are 
protected by heavy beams, and in front is the experimental 
boring, a low-roofed circular tunnel about seven feet in diameter, 
on the floor of which is a double line of tram-rails. This 
tunnel is admirably ventilated on the pumping system ; and 
on visiting days is lighted with Swarm's electric lamps. The 
stratum through which the experimental borings have been made 
is the lower grey chalk, looks like " Fuller's earth," nearly half 
clay and the other half chalk. " This material, while perfectly 
water-tight, is not harder than tolerably hard cheese, and the 
steam-driven boring knives work in it like cheese-tasters in an 
uncut Stilton. The stuff taken out is not ' waste,' but material 
easily converted into cement to line the walls of the tunnel when 
completed to its full diameter of fourteen feet, and the nature of 


the working renders it impossible and unnecessary to employ a 
large amount of physical labour." The excavation was carried 
on at the rate of 100 yards a-week, or three miles a-year. 
Simultaneous borings from the French side at the same rate 
would give six miles a-year, or a tunnel underneath the Channel 
in three years and a half. A great bed of grey chalk stretches 
in an irregular curve from England to France, starting from the 
foot of the Shakespeare Cliff, and reaching to a point on the 
French coast a little to the east of Cape Grisnez. 

We may now avail ourselves of existing agencies for crossing 
over the " silver streak of sea," and notice some railway tunnels 
on the continent of Europe and elsewhere. 

The first tunnel that pierced the Alps was the Mont Cenis. 
When it was proposed, where was the engineer who did not 
smile at the notion of cutting through a mountain nearly 3,000 
metres in height, and more than 12,000 in thickness? Where, 
it was asked, can you get air for workmen, 2,000 metres under 
earth ? Half a century would not suffice for the task. Objec- 
tions were plentiful, but the dream has become a reality after 
only thirteen years' labour. The tunnel was begun at the end 
of 1857, anc * was finished in 1871. 

Here the question may naturally arise : How can a tunnel, 
it commenced simultaneously at the sides of a range of moun- 
tains, be made to meet in the middle? It is obvious that to 
avoid mistake on so vital a matter most careful scientific 
methods have to be adopted. In the first instance the centre 
line beneath which the tunnel will run, has, by the aid of a 
trigonometrical survey of the district to be fixed above ground. 
In the Mont Cenis work observatories were erected, at some 
distance from the entrance of the future tunnel, and marks 
were placed along the line the accuracy of which was verified 

"The transit instrument set up on Mont Cenis was first 
directed on the mark opposite to it on the mountains, and 
shining like a bright star ; its telescope was then tilted down- 
wards until the flame of a lamp set up in the tunnel itself 
was accurately bisected by the cross hairs. This operation 
is repeated three more times, the instrument being re-levelled 
on each occasion, until the mean of the four observations formed 
what is called a * series.' A second r series ' is then made by an 


independent observer, and should the mean of the two agree 
to within a small fraction of an inch, the point denoted by the 
flame is correctly fixed, and a fresh one is sought for ; but if 
there is much discrepancy in the observations, further 'series' 
are made until the mean of all the various positions of the lamp 
warrants the adoption of the point as a station." Such was the 
accuracy of the methods adopted, first for determining the axis 
of the tunnel laid out above ground ; and, secondly, for trans- 
ferring this axis underground, that the two tunnels pierced 
from opposite sides of the Alps, duly met. 

The agencies by which the actual excavation of the tunnel 
was accomplished were remarkable in many respects, and espe- 
cially with regard to perforating machines, and the power 
employed to bring them into operation. The use of steam 
would have caused smoke and vapour, which would have 
been intolerable in a long closed gallery. The power of moun- 
tain torrents was therefore brought into service ; and, by means 
of water-wheels, air was compressed into tubes which drove the 
perforating engines that pierced into the rock the holes neces- 
sary for blasting, and it also, after the explosion, cleared the 
foul atmosphere away. The compressing engines were outside 
the tunnel, the air from them being driven along flexible pipes ; 
and the perforating engine with its nine or ten perforators itself 
rested upon a tramway, so that it could be moved forwards or 
backwards as required. The perforators were similar in appear- 
ance to large gun barrels, and out of each of them a boreing bar, 
or jumper, by the admission behind it of a blast of compressed 
air, was rapidly shot at the rock ; the return stroke being made 
by similar means. At the end of about three-quarters of an 
hour each perforator had pierced a hole from two feet to two 
feet six inches in depth into the hard calcareous and crystallized 
schist traversed by quartz. Another ten holes were then com- 
menced ; and so on till about eighty had been made. The per- 
forating machine was now drawn backwards on its truck, and 
sheltered behind two massive doors. Miners then advanced, 
charged the holes, adjusted the matches, lit them, retired behind 
folding doors which were at once closed, and the explosion fol- 
lowed. Air was injected, and gangs of men proceeded to clear 
the debris into little wagons that ran on a tram line beside the 
main tramway. These three operations occupied altogether 


from ten to fourteen hours, and it is easy with these data to 
calculate the rate at which the work advanced. 

The St. Gothard tunnel is another of the most remarkable 
works of engineering science. The line itself is carried 4,000 
feet above the sea, along what was an entirely unlevel route, 
up steep gradients, and along sharp curves, exposed to the 
dangers of snow and avalanche, and then through a tunnel nine 
miles and a quarter long, under a mountain range that rises 
above to the height of 8,000 to 11,000 feet. 

No route in the world, we are assured, in the early summer, is 
more picturesque than that over which the cumbrous diligence 


daily carried its freight of tourists from the lovely shores of 
Lake Lucerne to the still lovelier banks of Maggiore. "But 
when winter comes, and the snowdrifts accumulate in mighty 
and impassable masses, communication between the Switzers 
on the two sides of the St. Gothard and the whole populations 
of the neighbour States is practically cut off." The St. Gothard 
tunnel and the line of which it forms a part supplies a remedy 
for these evils, and links together the railway system ending at 
Lucerne with that which runs to the Italian lakes frt>m Milan. 



It begins at Goeschenen, burrows through the mountain to 
Airolo, and descends with ease towards the pleasant lakes and 
valleys of Northern Italy. The scenery, wherever a glimpse can 
be obtained of it, is of the most magnificent description. But 
the admiration excited by the works of nature is, perhaps, not 
greater than that aroused by the engineering marvels with 
which the St. Gothard line is studded from beginning to end. 
" It not only has the longest tunnel in the world, but twenty- 
four miles, or more than one-fifth of the whole line, consists of 
tunnels. Many of these have had to be constructed in spiral 
or corkscrew fashion, whereby, while making the necessarily 
rapid ascent from the valleys to a higher elevation, the line is 
perfectly protected against the avalanches which are frequent 
at those spots." There are also the lofty viaducts, the bridges, 
the sheltering galleries, and other works, all of themselves 
sufficient to make the St. Gothard line one of the most remark- 
able achievements of modern engineering. The time occupied 
in passing through the great St. Gothard tunnel is about forty 

We may here quote the words of one who regards this latest 
achievement of the engineers not without misgiving. " At last," 
he says, " the great sub- Alpine tunnel is complete. Every- 
body, of course, deserves to be congratulated upon this mighty 
engineering achievement, which casts into the shade all the 
other tunnelling works the world has yet seen accomplished. 
People, too, who are always in a hurry to get to the end of their 
journey will rejoice to think that instead of spending twelve 
hours in toiling up the bleak northern slope of the mountain 
and descending the smiling valley on the other side, the passage 
of the St. Gothard may now be made in just forty minutes. To 
save eleven hours and twenty minutes in a journey of this kind 
is no doubt something worth achieving. And yet those who 
know what it was to cross the St. Gothard before ever a work- 
man had struck his pickaxe into the side of the mountain at 
Goeschinen, and when the awful splendour of the Devil's Bridge 
and the rich loveliness of the Ticino valley were free from the 
remotest suspicion of such intrusion, must think sadly of the 
sorry substitute that is now offered for the glorious climb by 
carriage or diligence, or still better on foot, that they have 
enjoyed in former days. Forty minutes in a tunnel, against 


twelve hours on the open mountain-side ! " With fine weather 
and summer seasons guaranteed all the year round, we shall 
heartily agree with the graphic writer whose words we have 

The practical results of the opening of the line are of the 
greatest interest, not only commercially but politically. When 
first projected it was regarded with jealousy and opposition in 
Switzerland, and with something more than coldness by France ; 
and had it not been for the new chapters in European history 
entered upon in the years 1870 and 1871, it is morally certain 
that it would never have been carried out. The Mont Cenis 
tunnel was opened in September, 1871 ; the St. Gothard tunnel 
was commenced in October, 1872. "The Unification both of 
Italy and of Germany must be associated with the inception and 
the conclusion of the work." The St. Gothard tunnel must be 
regarded not only as a triumph of engineering skill, but as a 
monument of the political progress of nations. Its object, 
according to the terms of the official programme, is " to promote 
intercourse between Switzerland, Germany, and Italy ; to in- 
vigorate the maritime and commercial power of Italy ; to give 
new life to the old commercial highway of the Rhine ; and to 
reduce the distance between Germany and the Mediterranean 
coasts." The new St. Gothard route will establish the same 
relations between Germany and Genoa as the Semmering and 
Brenner Railway have established between Germany on the one 
hand and Venice and Trieste on the other. At the same time, 
" there is no reason why France should not participate in many 
of its benefits. Eastern France is prolific in manufactures and 
industries." The St. Gothard tunnel will afford a more direct 
road for their exportation to other parts of the Continent than 
any before existing ; while for passenger traffic, the St. Gothard 
route will be shorter for travellers from the French and English 
capitals to Northern and Southern Italy than the Mont Cenis 
route or the Brenner. 

The Spruce Creek tunnel is remarkable for the singular 
picturesqueness of its approaches at either end. It is named 
after the river and village near its eastern end. It is on the 
Pennsylvanian Railroad, 215 miles from Philadelphia. 

The entrances to tunnels are various in style, they should be 
consistent as entrances to works of solidity, solitarmess, and 





gloom. Some are thrown into relief by well wooded hills that 
rise behind them. Red Hill tunnel, as seen from near Trent 
junction, and Shugborough tunnel, on the Trent Valley line, 
may be cited as examples. The north face of the latter has a 
noble archway, deeply moulded, flanked by square towers, and 
is surmounted by a battlemented parapet. 



Viaducts. Construction .of Viaducts. Arten Gill Viaduct. Smardale 
Viaduct. Materials for Construction of Viaducts. Stone and Timber 
Viaducts. Alderbottom Viaduct. Sankey Viaduct. Tarentine Via- 
duct. Button Viaduct. Dryfe Sands Viaduct. Avon Viaduct. 
Dinting Viaduct. Congleton Viaduct. Foord Viaduct. Ouse Viaduct. 
Llangollen Viaduct Skelton Viaduct. Bugsworth Viaduct Ribble- 
head Viaduct. Dent Head Viaduct. New Holland Ferry. Vicenza 
and Venice Railway. Conewago Viaduct. Trenton Viaduct. Bridges. 
Skew Bridges. Winkwell Skew Bridge. Rugby Road Bridge. 
Maidenhead Bridge. Drawbridge over the Arun. Floating Bridge on 
the Forth. High Level Bridge at Newcastle. Royal Border Bridge. 
Runcorn Bridge. Conway Tubular Bridge. Chepstow Bridge. Sinking 
the Cylinders. Britannia Tubular Bridge. Severn Bridge. Saltash 
Bridge. Charing Cross Bridge. Battersea Bridge. Forth Bridge. 
Elevated Railways. Suspension Bridge over Niagara River. Cone- 
maugh Bridge. Level Crossings. 

HE viaduct is an important ele- 
ment in railway construction. In 
passing, for instance, through a 
town it is desirable to avoid in- 
terference with the traffic of the 
streets it may be necessary to in- 
tersect ; and though this is some- 
times effected by a tunnel, as at 
Liverpool ; or by an open cutting 
connected by short tunnels, and 
traversed by bridges, as is the case near the Euston station, or 
by an embankment, as at Manchester, Birmingham, and many 
other places, yet it is frequently accomplished by means of a 
viaduct, or by embankments in which short viaducts are formed. 
The lines from the City to Blackwall, and from London Bridge 
to Greenwich, may indeed be styled viaduct lines ; and the con- 
tinuation of the South Western Railway from near Nine Elms 
to Waterloo is constructed as a viaduct for the entire distance 

of about two miles. By these means a great saving of land also 



is effected, it being necessary to purchase only a little more than 
the actual width of the line, and the spaces between the arches 
may be used by the Company or let. 

The appearance of stone viaducts when in course of construc- 
tion is striking. A timber stage, called a " gantry," is constructed 
on each side of the work, sufficiently wide to allow of the piers 
and abutments being built between. A jenny, or crane, is then 
placed on a movable platform extending from one stage to the 
other. The materials are wound up either by hand or steam 
power, and are then moved slowly along till they can be lowered 
to the exact position they are to occupy. As soon as the 


masonry is built up to the level of the gantry, a fresh lift of 
timber is put on, the crane is raised to the new height, and so 
the work is continued to another stage. By these means stones 
of great size can be used. 

The engravings of Arten Gill viaduct, in the Vale of Dent, 
and of Smardale viaduct, near Kirkby Stephen, present a vivid 
idea of such works in course of construction. Arten Gill viaduct 
is 660 feet long, of eleven arches, each of 45 feet span, and the 
rails are 117 feet above the water. 

In the erection of Smardale viaduct more than 60,000 tons 


of stone were used. It is the highest viaduct on the Midland 
system, being 130 feet from the stream to the rails, and its length 
is 710 feet. 

Viaducts are of great value in traversing rivers or deep valleys. 
As an illustration of the contingencies which have to be dealt 
with in the construction of such works, it may be mentioned 
that a viaduct having on one occasion been planned across a 
wide and deep valley on a series of lofty arches, it was found in 
the execution of the work, that the precise spot on which it was 



intended to rear one of the central piers came exactly over the 
mouth of an ancient coal pit. 

In the building of viaducts, stone, brick, iron and wood are 
employed, separately or together ; the local materials being pre- 
ferred. In the earlier railways timber was frequently resorted 
to, the beams being trussed with iron ; and the expense of 
coffer-damming in crossing water was avoided. One of these 
structures was built on the Derby and Birmingham, line, which 
crosses the Thame and Trent rivers, its length being more than 



twelve hundred feet, and its mean height thirty-three feet ; but 
its cost per cubic yard was little less than that of many stone 
structures. On the North Union line a timber viaduct of great 
length was erected ; and on some of the Scotch railways the 
system of trussed-beam viaducts was applied to very large spans. 
Another timber viaduct, which combined great lightness of 
appearance, economy of materials, and smallness of cost, com- 
pared with that of an embankment or brickwork arcade, con- 
nected the Bricklayer's Arms Station with the main line of the 
Brighton and the South Eastern Railways. The wood was pre- 
viously submitted to an anti-dry-rot process, by which it was 
protected from vegetable decomposition, and from liability to 
take fire from the burning coals of passing engines. 


When the South Eastern Railway was constructed, it was 
decided to erect a timber viaduct to carry the line between the 
Shakspeare tunnel and the Arch Cliff Fort at Dover, the piles 
being driven into the rock. A light open framework supported 
an elevated platform, on which the rails were laid, while the sea 
beats on the " unnumbered idle pebbles " that lie below. A sea- 
wall, it was believed, would have been washed away. (Vide 

Timber has frequently been employed with stone in the forma- 
tion of viaducts. One of the largest works of this kind is known 
as Green's laminated bridge, on the Newcastle and North Shields 



Railway. The piers are of stone, and there are five arches of a 
hundred and twenty-six feet span, besides two others of smaller 
dimensions ; altogether more than a thousand feet in length. 
Its cost is stated at ; 24,000 ; it is estimated that 7,000 
more would have sufficed to have built it entirely of stone. 
Another stone and timber viaduct was built on the Paris and 
Rouen line, at Bezons. The stone piers were raised on artificial 




foundations, brought up to the level of the water by means of 
concrete inclosed within a sheeting of oak piles, driven as closely 
together as possible, and secured by iron straps and bolts. 

In many instances the original timber structures have been 
superseded by stone. An excellent illustration of this is de- 
picted in the accompanying woodcuts, and they indicate the pro- 


gress of railway construction and its actual improvement under 
the name of repair of railway plant. The one represents the 
timber viaduct that formerly crossed the valley of the river 
Aire, on the Midland line near Skipton ; the other depicts its 
stone and iron viaduct that has superseded it. 

There is another timber and stone viaduct on the East Lan- 
cashire line, where it crosses the River Irwell at Alderbottom. 
It consists of bays or openings, composed of timber framing 
resting on stone piers. The bridge carrying the old line of rail- 
way is nearly adjoining it, but at a lower elevation ; the new 
route being selected because increased power of locomotives 
allowed the use of steeper gradients than were at first ad- 

The Sankey viaduct is also a " composite " building ; its ten 
arches are supported on about two hundred piles, varying from 
thirty to forty feet in length. It crosses the Sankey Valley, at 
the bottom of which runs a canal; and is made of brick, with 
stone facings. 

The Button viaduct, across the vale of Button and the river 
Weaver, on the Grand Junction, is considered the best piece of 
masonry on that line, and is perhaps the finest of George 
Stephenson's viaducts. It consists of twenty red sandstone 
arches of 60 feet span and 60 feet high, and it is more than a 
quarter of a mile long. The foundations of the piers stand on 
piles driven 20 feet deep. An extensive view is obtained from 
it ; and the traveller looks down also on the vessels that are pur- 
suing their way along the intricacies of the Weaver navigation. 

The Bryfe Sands viaduct, on the Caledonian line, is a good 
illustration of plainness of style combined with strength and 

In the formation of viaducts brick is often used. At Stock- 
port is a structure of this kind, consisting of twenty-six semi- 
circular arches : its extreme length is nearly 1800 feet ; its mean 
height, 90 feet. The Bane Valley viaduct, on .the North 
Staffordshire line, is built almost entirely of brick. The Midland 
Railway viaduct across the valley of the Avon, near Rugby, is 
of the same material. It has eleven semi-elliptical arches, each 
of fifty feet span. It is thought by some to have an excess of 
masonry in the haunches of the arches, and that the span of the 
openings is out of proportion to their height. The Congleton 



viaduct, on the North Staffordshire line, is also of brick. It has 
ten arches of fifty feet span, and two central ones, which are 
among the highest in the kingdom. The rails are 1 14 feet 
above the bed of the river. 

The form and construction of viaducts depend on the exi- 
gencies of the case and the preferences of the engineer. The 
Dinting viaduct, on the Sheffield and Manchester line, has seven 


stone and five timber arches, the latter being of 125 feet span, 
and more than 120 feet high. On the same line is the Etherton 
viaduct, of stone and iron. The foundations of the piers and 
abutments were laid on the solid rock, and 200,000 cubic feet of 
millstone grit were employed in its erection. More than 30,000 
cubic feet of timber, which by a chemical process had previously 



!|; 'ill I ' Illl ll :: ': 


been rendered impervious to dry rot and the attacks of insects, 
were used. The iron employed amounted to more*than eighty 



tons. The Ogvven viaduct, on the Chester and Holyhead Rail- 
way, is also well deserving of notice. 

A viaduct characterized by great lightness and loftiness crosses 
the valley of the Foord near Folkestone. It consists of nineteen 
arches, some a hundred feet high, and yet the piers are not more 
than six feet in breadth, or one-fifth of that of the arches. A 
remarkable skew viaduct of thirty-one arches crosses the Ogden 
stream and valley. It traverses the chasm between the rocky 
sides of the river, close to which, in the works, was a quicksand 


fifty feet deep. Into this for a considerable time the contractors 
threw earth, at the rate of fifteen hundred cubic yards a day, 
without any satisfactory result. 

One of the largest viaducts in the country traverses the Ouse 
valley and river, on the London and Brighton line. It consists 
of thirty-seven arches, the rails, at the highest part, being a 
hundred feet above the level of the water. Its length, including 
the abutments is 1,437 f ee t- 

One of the most stupendous efforts of skill and art to which 
railways have given rise is the viaduct across the valley of the 


Dee, near Chirk, in the Vale of Llangollen (see Vignette). It is 
upwards of a hundred and fifty feet above the river, and is sup- 
ported by nineteen arches of ninety feet span, and its length is 
nearly a third of a mile. The boldness of its style and the 
chasteness of its finish are exceedingly effective. Such architec- 
ture imparts grace and beauty to the structure, without impairing 
its strength. It has an inclination from end to end of ten feet, 
and connects that part of the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway 
between Rhos-y-Medre and Chirk. Viewed from beneath, the 
vast structure presents a noble appearance. 

The Skelton viaduct, which carries the Doncaster and Hull 


line of the North Eastern over the Ouse is one of the greatest 
engineering achievements of the day. Not only did the founda- 
tions present extraordinary difficulties, but the superstucture has 
some remarkable features. The comparatively low level of the 
new line required an opening bridge, and the moveable portion 
so provided for the accommodation of the river traffic is the 
longest of any work of the kind in England. At the point of 
crossing the Ouse it is about 800 feet wide, and the moveable 
part of the over-channel bridge is not less than 232 feet. This 
part crosses the river where it is deepest ; it turns on a stupend- 
ous mid-river pier, and is opened and closed by hydnrulic power 



Complete signals have been provided to guard against the possi- 
bility of accident to trains while the bridge is open for the 
passage of ships. The entire structure is carried by seven spans 
of solid fish-backed girders, resting upon massive iron piers, 
forced to a great depth into the river bed through various layers 
of silt, peat, and clay. The structure is one of imposing appear- 
ance, and is a great triumph of engineering skill. The line is 

The engraving of Bugsworth viaducts represents the old stone 
one to the right, which, with sixteen acres of land, slipped, and 


the new one of timber which had to be erected in its stead, and 
is still in use. 

One of the finest viaducts, and also one of the most impressive 
views near a viaduct that can be obtained in this country, is that 
known as Ribblehead viaduct, on the Settle and Carlisle line 
of the Midland Company. It stands on the watershed of the 
Kibble, and consists of twenty-four arches, the loftiest, from the 
bottom of the foundation to the level of the rails, being no less 
than 165 feet. Behind it, and apparently lying directly athwart 
the course of the line, is the mighty range of Whernside, nearly 



2,500 feet high ; and to avoid it, the railway bears to the right, 
and before long enters Blea Moor tunnel. 

Another of the loftiest viaducts on the Midland line is that 
at Dent Head, a little to the north of Blea Moor tunnel. It is 


near the magnificent Dent Valley. This viaduct is 200 yards 
long, of ten semicircular arches, rising 100 feet above the public 
road, and also over a little mountain torrent that falls into the 
Dent, which runs hard by. 


The New Holland ferry, represented in the engraving, may 
be regarded as a viaduct-pier. It extends 1,500 feet into the 




Humber, and along it the trains pass till they approach the 
steamboats which are to convey the passengers and goods 
across the river. Instead of stumbling over wet stones, slipping 
along greasy landing places, and getting in and out of boats, 
the trans-shipment is easily and securely effected. 

Among continental railways, one of the most interesting 
viaducts is that on the Vicenza and Venice line. It crosses the 
Laguna Veneta, and required much engineering skill to com- 
plete. The base is of the stone of Istria, secured together with 


Roman cement ; the upper parts are of brick. The bridge 
consists of 222 arches, and is 12,000 feet in length. A thousand 
men were employed on the work, and they were engaged during 
four years. Thus is Venice the ocean city chained to the 
mainland. No future Rogers will be able to describe the 
approach to it as he did : 

" There is a glorious city in the sea. 
The sea is in the broad and narrow streets, 
Ebbing and flowing, and the salt sea-weed 
Clings to the marble of the palaces. 
No track of men, no footsteps to and fro 
Lead to her gates. The path lies o'er the sea 



Invisible ; and from the land we went 
As to a floating city steering in 
And gliding up her streets, as in a dream, 
So smoothly, silently by many a dome, 
Mosque-like, and many a stately portico, 
The statues ranged along the azure sky ; 
By many a pile in more than Eastern-pride 
Of old the residence of merchant kings." 

Two more interesting 
examples of this kind of 
work may be referred to. 
One is the Conewago 
viaduct on the Pennsylvania railway, of which we give an 
illustration ; and the other is the viaduct at Trenton, on the 
Delaware River. 

Bridges are an important class of railway works. The number 



of those erected over or under local roads, and for field com- 
munications, on English railways alone, is surprising. Some- 
times " cattle arches " are also constructed, under which farmers 
may drive their flocks and herds, instead of running the risk of 

attempting to take them across a cutting or embankment. 
There are no fewer than 63 bridges under or over the railway 
on the 30 miles between Liverpool and Manchester. There are 
1 60 bridges OVCL* and no under the London and Birmingham 


line ; on the Dover line there are 141 ; and between London 
and Gosport, on the South Western line, there are 188 ; making 
a total of nearly 600 bridges on 287 miles of railway. Between 
Brentford and Colchester, on the Great Eastern line, a distance 
of 34 miles, are no fewer than 64 bridges and viaducts, and 37 
culverts and drains, besides 18 level crossings. 

The foundations of large bridges are frequently laid by means 
of cofferdams, which consist of inclosures made by " piling " 
round the space that is to be occupied by the pier, so as to render 
it watertight. The water is then pumped out, and the pier is 
built inside up to the required height ; or an iron cylinder is 
driven down within the piles, and inside the cylinder the pier 
is erected.* 

In many cases railways cross roads or canals in an oblique 
direction. If a common square bridge were here employed the 
road intersected by the railway would have to be diverted 
(fig. i), so as to cross at right angles ; or the arch would have 
its top and its abutments needlessly extended (fig. 2). To avoid 

Fig. i. Fig. 2. Fig. 3. 

these evils a skew bridge (fig. 3) is built. Of this there is a 
good example in the Winkwell bridge, and there are multitudes 

The larger bridges on our railways usually cross rivers or 
canals ; small ones are over common roads. They are some- 
times ornate erections. One of the best of the early ones is near 
Rugby, and is an adaptation of the castellated style. As seen 
from one side, some of the arches of the great Midland viaduct 
appear in the distance. Bridges with iron girders are now 
frequently preferred, as in the case of several which cross the 
streets of the metropolis. 

One of the most remarkable structures of the kind in the 
country is the bridge which carries the Great Western line over 

* The process is minutely described in " The Midland Raikvay, its Rise 
and Progress." 



the Thames at Maidenhead. It is composed of a central pier 
and two main arches, flanked at either end by four openings, 
for the passage of the flood water. The main arches are 
elliptical, 130 feet span, and 24 feet rise. The land arches are 


semicircles of 28 feet diameter. The central pier stands in the 
middle of the river. The foundations of the bridge rest on a 
hard pebble conglomerate, overlying chalk, and covered up by 


loose gravel and alluvia! mud. The body of the work is exe- 
cuted in brick ; the cornice, cap-stones, and coping are from 
the quarries of Bramley Whitehurst, near Leeds. The bridge 
has this peculiarity it consists of two arches only, probably 



the largest and flattest, in proportion to their span, that have 
oeen executed in brick. Its structure was minutely criticised 
at the time, and many doubts were expressed as to its stability. 
It was constructed with only two arches because in the middle 
of the river was a shoal which provided a good foundation, and 
because it was important to keep the deep water free for the 
navigation. It was also necessary to preserve the gradients of 
the railway uniform, and this depended upon the height of the 

A bridge on the South Coast Railway is worthy of special 
notice. It is over the Arun, near Arundel, and was the first 
of its kind. The Company was bound to provide a clear water- 


way of sixty feet tor the passage of shipping, and this had 
to be accomplished by a contrivance called a telescope bridge. 
The rails, for a length of 144 feet, are laid upon a massive 
timber platform, strengthened with iron, and trussed with rods, 
extending from its extremities to the top of a strong frame- 
work of timber, and rising thirty-four feet above the level of 
the roadway in the middle of the platform. The framework 
is ornamented so as to appear like an arch. Under this 
central framework and under one-half of the platform are 
eighteen wheels, upon which the whole structure can be 
moved backwards and forwards, so as either to be clear of the 
river, or to project its unsupported half across it, and so to form 
a bridge for the passage of the trains. Two men* and a boy 



are able to open the bridge in about five minutes, the work 
being done by means of toothed wheels and racks, moved by 

A steam bridge, or floating railway, crosses the Forth between 
Granton and Burntisland. The difficulties that had to be over- 
come to obtain the necessary communication were considerable ; 
for as the tide rises about twenty feet, a vessel on a level with 
the quay at high water would be a long way below it at low 
water. Accordingly alongside the piers at Granton and Burnt- 
island an incline of masonry was built, upon which were laid 
two lines of rails ; on the incline was placed a moveable platform 
resting on sixteen wheels. Four girders span the distance 


between the platform and the vessel ; and these are elevated 
or depressed by means of a winch on each side of a staging, 
eighteen feet high, erected across the platform. 

The high-level bridge over the deep ravine through which 
the Tyne flows between Newcastle and Gateshead, is a very 
remarkable structure. It forms the junction between the York 
and Newcastle and the Newcastle and Berwick Railways. It 
was proposed by Mr. Hudson, and designed by Mr. Robert 

The first difficulty in building it was to secure good founda- 
tions for the piers. The piles to be driven were so large that 
Nasmyth's Titanic steam-hammer had to be used to drive 



them. By the common pile a comparatively small mass of 
iron fell with great velocity for a considerable height "the 



velocity being in excess and the mass deficient, and calculated, 
like the momentum of a cannon ball, rather for destructive 
chan impulsive action. In the case of the steam pile-driver, 
on the contrary, the whole weight of a bearing mass is delivered 
rapidly upon a driving-block of several tons weight placed 
directly over the head of the pile, the weight never ceasing, 
and the blows being repeated at the rate of a blow a second, 
until the pile is driven home. It is a curious fact, that the 
rapid strokes of the steam hammer evolved so much heat that 
on many occasions the pile head burst into flame." The first 
pile was driven to a depth of 32 feet in four minutes ; and as 
soon as one was placed, the traveller, hovering overhead, pre- 
sented another, and down it went, like a pin into a pincushion. 


When the piles had been driven and the cofferdams completed 
the water was pumped out. But though powerful engines were 
employed, it forced itself through the bed of quicksand as fast 
as it was removed. Every effort was made for months to over- 
come it, but without success ; until, at last, cement concrete 
was put in, which set, a foundation was made, and the piers 
were securely built. 

There are two roadways, one level with the Castle-garth, 
for carriages and foot-passengers, and the other 22 feet above it. 
The carriage-road is 1,380 feet in length. The bridge is H2j 
feet from high-water line to the top of the parapet, and the 
roadway is 80 feet above the water. Six arches, each of 125 



feet span, form the bridge, the piers upon which they rest 
being of masonry, and the arches, pillars, braces, and transverse 
girders of iron. The bridge-piers are nearly 50 feet by 16 in 
thickness; and in height are 131 feet from the foundation, 
having an opening in the centre through each. The land arches 
of the bridge diminish in altitude corresponding with the steep 
bank of the river basin. 

The roadway for vehicles beneath the line forms one of the 
most striking peculiarities of the work. This roadway is sus- 
pended from the great arches which carry the line. The pillars 


which carry the road add greatly to the picturesque effect; and 
the multiplicity of column-ribs, transverse and vertical braces, 
produces a combination of beautiful lines seldom seen. 

Two bridges cross the river Tweed at Berwick: one of fifteen 
arches, built in the reigns of James I. and Charles I., at a cost 
of 15,000, occupying twenty-four years in the building, and 
paid out of the national resources ; the other, the Royal Border 
bridge, built by the railway company. It stretches from 
Castle Hill to Tweedmouth, at a height of 126 feet, and cost 
1 20,000. It is 667 yards long, and was finished in a little 



over three years. The foundations of the piers were laid on 
bearing-piles, each capable of carrying 70 tons. The whole is 
built of ashlar, with a "hearting" of rubble, except the river 
parts of the arches, which are constructed with bricks laid in 

Another viaduct is that at Runcorn. The vast estuary of the 
Mersey, as it bends south and eastward and separates the 
counties of Cheshire and Lancashire, long rendered it impossible 
to secure direct communication between Crewe and Chester 
and Liverpool ; and the traveller was compelled to take a 

circuitous route, first north and then west, or to leave his 
train and cross the river by steamboat from Birkenhead. At 
length, to quote the " Tourist Guide " of Messrs. Morton & Co., 
for whose cheap and beautiful productions innumerable readers 
are greatly indebted, " the London and North- Western Com- 
pany resolved to overcome every obstacle and to carry their 
main line right over the Mersey, and at such an elevation as 
not to interrupt the busy navigation of the river. Runcorn 
viaduct consists of thirty-three arches : one of 20 feet span, 
twenty-nine of 40 feet span, and three of 6 1 feet." The central 
part of the bridge that stretches over the navigable channel 


rests on four massive castellated piers, 300 feet apart, that 
sink into the bed of the river, and carry the girders 80 feet 
above the water. " Ten other arches form the west bank 
viaduct ; this leads to an embankment ; and the line is now 
continued upon the Ditton viaduct of forty-nine arches. The 
appearance of the Viaduct, as it carries the passenger over the 
river, is very striking. A footway on each side of the viaduct 
supersedes the old and tedious ferry." 

The Conway tubular bridge, in North Wales, has deservedly 
attracted much attention. Passengers accustomed to travelling 
by the magnificent service of the London and North Western 
may remember with interest how people used sometimes to 
fare at this spot : " On Christmas Day, 1806," says the Annual 


Register, " owing to a heavy swell in the river Conway, the boat 
conveying the Irish mail, with eight passengers, the coachman, 
guard, and a youth about fifteen years of age (in all fifteen 
in number, including the boatman), was upset, and only two 
persons saved." 

The present bridge is in effect a rectangular tunnel, or hollow 
square box, the sides of which carry the load. The Conway 
end of the tube is immovable, being fixed on the pier, and 
made to rest on two beds of creosoted timber, with intermediate 
cast-iron bed-plates ; but the Chester end is free, so that it 
may expand by heat and contract by cold. Here the tube 
rests on cast-iron rollers, which give play, so as to allow twelve 
inches of motion. The whole mass weighs 1,140 tons. 

A tubular bridge has been constructed over the* Wye, at 


Chepstow, on the South Wales Railway, to which allusion must 
be made. It consists of four spans, three of about a hundred 
feet each, and one of 290 feet, extending altogether from bank 
to bank for 610 feet. The chief span is a modification of the 
suspension principle, the great length of the girders requiring 
more support than that afforded by the piers alone at each 
extremity. Mr. Brunei accordingly contrived that this should 
be given by means of a tube 309 feet in length, and nine in 
diameter, which, having been raised to the summit of piers 
erected on the east bank, and in the centre of the river, is 
strengthened by massive chains secured to the girders. These 
girders are fifty feet above high-water mark at spring tides, 
which here rise from fifty to sixty feet, being more than any 
other river in the kingdom. 

In sinking the cylinders to form the piers of the bridge, the 
workmen had first to pass through twenty-nine feet of blue clay 
and sand, below which they met with a thin bed of peat con- 
taining timber, some solid oak, hazel nuts, and other similar 
substances. They next came to several feet of fine blue gravel, 
and then they reached a bed of boulders, upon which the cylin- 
ders were originally intended to rest. After this was a bed of 
red marl, beneath which there was solid rock, like millstone grit, 
and into this the cylinders were sunk. The mode in which this 
part of the work was performed was curious. The cylinders 
were placed on planks to prevent their cutting into the soft mud. 
One by one cylinders were added until they had reached the top 
of the stage (about forty feet in height) which had been erected 
for the purpose of sinking them. The weight of the column 
now cut through the planks, and the cylinder sank about six 
feet into the mud. Two or three men then descended into it, 
and as they removed the contents, the cylinder continued to sink, 
and as it descended fresh cylinders were added at the top. This 
process continued, without interruption, till a depth of about 
seventeen feet was attained, and then a spring was tapped, and 
without a moment's notice the water broke in from below in 
such force as to require the constant action of two thirteen-inch 
pumps worked by an engine. A remarkable fact attending this 
occurrence was, that the spring-water invariably rose in the 
cylinder exactly at that height to which the tube was standing 
in the river at the moment. That it was not an irruption from 


"iiji'iwi'Wi i, \r\ 


the Wye was considered to be beyond dispute, inasmuch as the 
river at this point, from the action of the tide, was always 


heavily tainted with mud, while the water which rushed into the 
cylinder from below was of exceeding purity, and did not con- 
tain a particle of salt. 

The problem with which Robert Stephenson had to deal in 
the construction of the Britannia bridge over the Menai Straits 
was, How is it possible to hang a hollow iron tunnel across an 
arm of the ocean, capable of supporting the heaviest burdens 
that trains could impose, and of bidding defiance to the storms 
which eddy and whirl along the straits ? A long series of 
laborious and costly experiments had now to be made. Cylin- 
drical tubes were found to fail by collapsing at the top, and they 
were inferior in strength to those of an elliptical form. Rect- 
angular tubes were next put to the test, and they had so 
decidedly the advantage in strength, that only the precise form 
and dimensions remained to be determined. A model was 
accordingly constructed of one sixth of the proposed Britannia 
bridge, and the final experiments having terminated most 
satisfactorily, arrangements were made for the erection of 
the colossal structure itself. 

The Britannia bridge is supported on three piers ; two on 
the Carnarvon and Anglesea shores, and one on a rock in the 
centre of the straits. The " Britannia tower " rose gradually and 
majestically from the surface of the water to the height of 230 
feet ; the piles of masonry on land are each more than 160 feet. 
The tower was constructed of nearly 150,000 cubic feet of 
Anglesea marble for the exterior, and nearly 150,000 feet of 
sandstone for the interior, strengthened by nearly 400 tons of 
cast-iron beams and girders, and having a total weight of up- 
wards of 20,000 tons. It was originally intended that the pier 
should be crowned with a colossal figure of Science ; but the 
depreciation of railway property induced the directors to aban- 
don the design. The land abutments on each side of the strait 
are terminated by two couchant lions of Egyptian character, 
each weighing eighty tons. No fewer than 8,000 cubic feet of 
limestone were required for the four. 

While the piers and abutments were thus rising, the construc- 
tion of the tubes was prosecuted with vigour. A timber plat- 
form was erected along the side of the water, behind which were 
the workshops of the artizans, covering three acres and a half 
of ground. On this platform the boiler-plates were fitted one 


to another, in a manner similar to that adopted in iron ship- 
building. The plates varied in their size according to the part 
of the tubes for which they were intended, being from six to 
twelve feet in length, about two in width, and from one-half to 
three-quarters of an inch in thickness. They had, as usual, been 
forged with the greatest accuracy, each being made to pass 
between two enormous iron rollers, worked by steam, which 
squeezed down into perfect uniformity that variety of irregular- 
ities to which the workmen have given the term of buckles. The 
plates were then removed to a punching- machine, by which the 
rivet-holes were made. The lever by which this was done had 
a pressure of from sixty to eighty tons ; and the iron plates 
were perforated by the steel bolt with apparently as much facil- 
ity as a child would push his thumb through a piece of blotting- 
paper. The rivets employed in securing the plates together 
were no fewer than two millions in number, and in the forma- 
tion 126 miles of iron rod were used, weighing about 900 tons. 
As the bolts were heated, a lad snatched one up with a pair 
of pincers, and flung it to another boy inside the tube, who 
picked it up, and ran with it to the " holder-up." By an enor- 
mous hammer he forced it into the rivet hole till its end pro- 
truded the other side, where a couple of stalwart workmen soon 
moulded it into a head, and the bolt became a rivet. This, 
gradually cooling, bound the plates of iron together. Practice 
gave such facility to the work, that a set drove 230 rivets a day. 
About eighteen were required to a yard. 

The spectacle presented during the progress of the works was 
novel and impressive. Ship-loads of iron were continually 
arriving from Liverpool, of marble from Penmon, of red sand- 
stone from Runcorn, and forests of timber from a variety of 
ports, and all were discharging their cargoes at the wharves and 
platforms. Wagons and carts were incessantly travelling in all 
directions, on tramways and common roads ; vast clouds of dark 
smoke issued from innumerable chimneys ; steam-engines con- 
stantly poured forth volumes of steam high into the air; and 
the whirring of machinery, the explosion of gunpowder, the 
thunder-like clang of the blacksmiths' hammers at the forges, 
and the reverberation from the riveters along the tubes, formed 
an extraordinary chaos of sights and sounds. 

The masonry of the piers and abutments being* at length 



sufficiently advanced towards completion, and one of the tubes 
being finished, arrangements for " the floating " were made an 
operation which attracted an immense concourse of visitors 
from all parts of Europe, and even from the United States. 

Meanwhile the platform which supported the tube to be first 
removed was partly cut away at each end, and a dock excavated 
sufficiently large to contain four pontoons. While the tube was 
unfinished these vessels lay at the bottom of the water, waiting 
till their gigantic energies were required to bear away the un- 
wieldy burden. The combined power of floatage of the vessels 
amounted to no less than 3,200 tons ; the weight of the tube, 
with its apparatus, was 1,800. On the day appointed for the 
floating, the valves in the pontoons, which had previously ad- 
mitted the water, were closed, and as the tide rose, the vessels 
rose upon it, and lifted the tube off the platform on which it 
had been constructed. The capstans on the Anglesea and Car- 
narvon shores and at the Britannia pier were prepared ; cables, 
six inches in diameter and a league in length, were arranged in 
their required positions, or fastened to the steamers which were to 
have the towing of the tremendous freight ; a hundred seamen, 
under Captain Claxton, manned the vessels ; nine hundred men 
assumed their several posts, and the vast and complicated arrange- 
ments were complete. The land attachments were severed ; 
the capstans were manned ; and then, at the signal of a flag 
on the Anglesea side, and a shrill strain from the trumpet of 
Captain Claxton on the top of the tube, " to pipe all hands," a 
cheer arose from the seamen, who, aided by the steam tugs, told 
upon the screws and tackle, and upon the hitherto motionless 
monster ; and without injury or jar, it slowly glided away, amid 
thunders of increasing applause, like a mountain moving on the 
waves, to the foot of the towers on which it was ultimately to 

So complete were the arrangements, and so efficient their 
execution, that, despite the power of the tide and the shortness 
of the time in which the work had to be completed, the mass 
was deposited exactly in its intended position, leaving a clear 
space of only about threi -quarters of an inch. The valves of 
the pontoons were no\v partially opened, and as the vessels 
sank, the ends of the tubes slowly descended to the temporary 
resting-places prepared for their support. 


The next process in these extraordinary operations was to 
elevate the tube to its position at the summit of the piers, a 
work to be performed by means of Bramah's press. The press 
was securely fitted in the upper part of the Britannia tower, at 
a height of about 40 feet above the level to which the tube was 
to be raised. At the top of the piston of the press was a hori- 
zontal iron beam, from the ends of which hung two enormous 
iron chains, of the weight of a hundred tons, and by these the 
tube was to be lifted to the place of its destination. 

The preparatory arrangements having been completed, and 
two forty-horse power steam-engines set to work, a lifting force 
was gained of no less than 2,622 tons ; and then the great piston 
began slowly to emerge from the cylinder, till, in about thirty 
minutes, the bridge was lifted six feet into the air. The tackle 
was then secured by " clams " at the foot of the press ; the 
weight was removed from the piston, till, descending by its own 
gravity to the point from which it started, the lifting operation 
could be repeated ; and thus the whole was gradually elevated 
to the summit, the final lift of the first tube being made on the 
1 3th of October, 1849. 

The Britannia bridge, which has been described as an iron 
tube hung across an arm of the sea, was opened on the 5th ot 
March, 1850, by the passage of three powerful engines, decorated 
with the flags of all nations, and conveying the distinguished 
engineer, with other gentlemen of eminence. The train started 
from Bangor station ; and, at seven o'clock in the morning of 
that memorable day, swept over the threshold of the stupendous 
fabric, and was soon lost amid the darkness within. On reach- 
ing the centre of each of the great spans, the locomotives, weigh- 
ing ninety tons, were stopped, and rested with all their weight 
on the floor of the tube, without occasioning the slightest undue 
deflection. It required next to be ascertained how far the 
vast corridor was capable of sustaining the equilibrium of forces ; 
and the result was such as to prove beyond doubt the accuracy 
of the theoretical conclusions at which Mr. Stephenson and his 
staff of engineers had arrived. The second experimental train 
that went through consisted of twenty-four heavily-laden wagons, 
filled with blocks of Brymbo coal, of an aggregate weight of 
three hundred tons. This was drawn through the tubes with 
deliberate speed. During the passage, a breathless silence pre- 


vailed ; but when it emerged at the opposite end, loud acclama- 
tions arose, and the report of pieces of ordnance smote on the 
ear. The examinations were thus continued for a considerable 
time, and every test served only to demonstrate the stability of 
the fabric. A train of two hundred tons weight was next placed 
in the middle of the Carnarvonshire tube, and remained there 
for two hours. It was found to occasion a deflection of only 
four-tenths of an inch a curvature not greater than would be 
caused by half an hour's sunshine, whereas it is confidently esti- 
mated that the entire structure might be deflected to the extent 
of thirteen inches, without danger. Another testing-train was 
subsequently formed, comprising three engines, two hundred 
tons of coal, and from thirty to forty railway carriages, contain- 
ing between six and seven hundred passengers. The tube was 
traversed by these at a speed of thirty-five miles an hour. 

The arrangements made for maintaining continuity in the 
entire length of the tube were also perfectly successful ; the 
strain on any one part was distributed over the whole ; and 
thus, as the engines entered the small land-tubes at either end, 
the motion due to their progressive weight was detected in every 
tube, even at the distance of 1,560 feet. According to the esti- 
mate of the engineers, the bridge is capable of supporting a 
series of locomotives following one another along its whole 
length ; it was said that a line-of-battle ship might be suspended 
from it without danger. 

The appearance of the bridge is imposing. In the far distance 
is the undulating landscape, varied by the rich tints of the wood- 
land, and backed by rising hills ; while the sun, approaching the 
verge of day, 

" Wearied with sultry toil, declines and falls 
Into the mellow eve ; the west puts on 
Her gorgeous beauties palaces and halls 
And towers, all carved of the unstable cloud." 

Stretching far away to the east and west, and glittering beneath 
the sun's rays, are the Irish Sea and St. George's Channel, con- 
nected by the Menai Straits ; while the steam-vessel and the 
deeply-laden merchantman wend their way below. Towards 
the Irish Sea is the slender fabric of the suspension bridge, 
over which some seemingly lilliputian vehicle and horses are 
passing. The small islands and rock which impede the flow of 


the water along the straits serve to add interest to the scene. 
To the northward is the Anglesea column, erected by the in- 
habitants of the neighbourhood in commemoration of the gallant 
Marquis, who led the British cavalry at Waterloo ; while about 
a hundred yards distant may be seen a humble but touching 
monument, built by the workmen of the Britannia tower, as a 
tribute to the memory of some of their comrades who lost their 
lives during the construction of the bridge. On the south the 
view is bounded, at the distance of forty miles, by a range of 
mountains, the loftiest of which is Snowdon. Between the base 
of these hills and the straits, the little wooden town was built 
which served for the accommodation of the artificers and work- 
men. And now, as we are gazing upon this scene of mingled 
wonder and beauty, the deep-toned reverberation of a train 
rushing along the iron corridor of the bridge, falls upon the 
ear ; and thus Science and Nature are mingled in harmonious 
contrast, and receive the grateful homage of every thoughtful 

The Severn-bridge Railway supplies a want that had long 
been felt, of direct communication across the lower part of the 
Severn, and avoids the long detour by way of Gloucester. It is 
five miles in length. Since the destruction of the bridge over 
the Firth of Tay it is the longest in the kingdom. Its length is 
a little over three-quarters of a mile, and it consists of 2 1 spans, 
two of which, crossing the channel of the river, are each 327 feet 
in length. The girders are made on the bowstring principle, 
and rest upon iron cylinders sunk deep into the rock in the bed 
of the river, and filled with concrete. Considerable difficulties 
were met with in the progress of the work, and the erection of 
the bridge is regarded as a triumph of engineering skill. Twelve 
of the cylinders were sunk in sand averaging about 28 feet in 
depth. Driving piles for the staging was found to be impractic- 
able, and Mr. Brunlees' plan was adopted, namely, forcing a 
jet of water through a pipe to the feet of the piles, thus scouring 
away the sand as the piles descended. In deep' water the 
cylinders were kept dry by the use of compressed air. Those in 
the channel of the river were the most difficult to erect. The 
water varied in depth from 30 feet to 70 feet ; at spring tides the 
water rose 30 feet in a little over two hours, and the current ran at 
the rate of ten knots an hour. The sandbanks in ftie river and 


the strength of the current induced the engineers not to attempt 
to build the girders on shore, and then to float them to the 
site and to hoist them into position. 

The Saltash bridge is one of the most remarkable in the 
world. The noble Tamar river, as its waters approach the little 
village of Saltash, narrows, and soon afterwards widens out into 
as fine a sheet of water as any of its kind in the kingdom, its 
distant banks decked with cottages and fringed with undulating 
woodlands down to the water's edge. Across this narrow part 
of the channel the viaduct hangs high in air. It consists of 
19 spans, seventeen of which are wider than the widest arches 
of Westminster bridge, and two, resting on a single cast-iron 
pier of four columns in the centre of the river, span the whole 
stream, a longer distance than the breadth of the Thames at 
Westminster. The structure from end to end is 2,240 feet 
nearly half a mile in length. 

" The greatest width is only 30 feet at basement, its height 
from foundation to summit no less than 260 feet, or 50 feet higher 
than the summit of the Monument. The Britannia bridge, in 
size, purpose, and engineering importance, seems to offer the 
best comparison with that at Saltash, but the Britannia tube is 
smaller, and cost nearly four times the price of the Saltash 
viaduct, though its engineers had natural facilities not possessed 
by Mr. Brunei for his Cornish bridge. The Menai tube is a 
suspension bridge, and the main tower had a ready-made founda- 
tion in the Britannia rock, from which the whole structure now 
derives its name. To cross the Tamar with one unsupported 
span nearly a quarter of a mile in length was of course impos- 
sible, and Mr. Brunei had not only to make his pier in the 
centre of the river, but, having no place to which to secure the 
tension chains on which the roadway hung, had also to contrive 
to make them in a manner self-supporting." For this the sus- 
pension chains hang down from the piers in a segment of a circle, 
and are bolted to the roadway, while above the roadway, so as 
to form the other segment of the circle, are two monster tubes 
of arched wrought iron, connected with the ends of the chains, 
which precisely answer the purpose of metal bows. 

On the great main pier, in the centre of the river, all the 
strain and pressure come, and nothing short of the solid rock 
would suffice for its foundation. " To reach this, however, was a 


matter of no ordinary difficulty, as some 70 feet of water, with 
20 feet of mud and concrete gravel, lay between Mr. Brunei and 
the stone on which he wished to build. An immense wrought 
iron cylinder, 37 feet in diameter, 100 feet high, and weighing 
300 tons, was made and sunk exactly in the spot where the 
masonry was to rise. From this the water was pumped out 
and air forced in ; the men descended, and, working as in a 
huge diving-bell at the bottom of the river, cleared away the 
mud and gravel till the rock was reached. Steam air-pumps 
were necessary to keep the men supplied, and, as a matter of 
course, they worked at a pressure of upwards of 381b. to the 
inch. At first this affected them severely ; many were seized 
with cramps, faintness, and insensibility, and one died. But 
after a time forty labourers could remain at work with little 
inconvenience. All, however, were glad when the solid column 
of granite built inside the cylinder rose at last above the 
water's edge." 

On this pile of stone, springing many feet below the river's 
bed, the iron columns for the centre pier were raised. Until 
these ponderous masses were cast, metal columns of such 
gigantic dimensions were never dreamt of. There are four of 
them, octagon in shape, 10 feet in diameter, and 100 feet high. 
The weight of these columns is about 150 tons each. The 
metal is two inches thick, and each column is stayed and sup- 
ported inside with massive ribs. " When all the pieces of the 
four columns had been cast, each was planed down and fitted 
together with the neatness of joiner's work. Thus finished, all 
were sent off piecemeal to the centre pier, though not erected, 
as they could only be built up under the centre spans as the 
latter were gradually lifted to their places by hydraulic pressure 
in one gigantic piece weighing some 1,200 tons. These were 
put together at the river's bank, were floated out to their place, 
and then raised in one mass." The chains are similar in prin- 
ciple to those of an ordinary suspension bridge, except that, 
instead of being made with links of seven bars, each link consists 
of fourteen bars of iron, an inch thick and six inches wide. The 
pressure on the centre pier foundation is upwards of eight tons to 
the foot, or double the pressure of the whole mass of the Victoria 
tower on the basement. Six inches have been allowed for ex- 
pansion and contraction to each tube, but the greatest difference 


yet observed between the hottest and the coldest day has only 
made a difference of two inches in the length of the bridge. 
" The fame of Saltash and its magnificent viaduct is likely to be 
still more widely known than even the colossal work which spans 
the Straits of Menai." 

Among the most remarkable railway bridges are those that 
ti averse the Thames. The Charing Cross bridge consists of nine 
spans six of 154 feet, and three of 100 feet. The level of the 
rails is 3 1 feet above high-water mark, and the river here is 
1,350 feet wide. The superstructure rests upon cylinders sunk 
through mud and gravel into the London clay to depths of 50, 
60, and in one instance of more than 70 feet below high- 
water mark. They are filled with Portland cement, concrete, or 
brickwork. To test the strength of the foundations, the two 
cylinders in the pier nearest to the Surrey side, after being com- 
pleted up to the level of high water, and filled with concrete and 
brickwork, were each weighted with 700 tons an amount equal 
to the greatest burden they could have to sustain, supposing the 
four lines of rails on the bridge were loaded with locomotives. 
This weight thus applied caused the cylinders to sink perma- 
nently four inches. To bring the other cylinders to a bearing, 
so as to prevent any subsequent settlement, each was weighted 
with 450 tons, whereupon they each sank permanently about 
three inches. The pairs of cylinders forming a pier are con- 
nected transversely by a wrought-iron box girder, 4 feet deep ; 
it also serves as a cross-girder for supporting the roadway. If 
the four lines of way on the bridge were to be loaded with loco- 
motives, the pressure on the base of the cylinders would amount 
to eight tons a square foot. 

The roadway platform over the 150 feet openings consists of 
four-inch planking spiked to longitudinal timbers, 15 inches by 
15, placed underneath the rails and bolted to the cross-girders. 
The footpath platforms are of planking, 6 inches thick. 

The first cylinder of this bridge was pitched June 6th, 1860, 
and its construction occupied three years. Nearly 5,000 tons of 
wrought iron, and nearly 2,000 tons of cast iron, were required. 
The result has been a remarkable concentration of strength in 
the piers and the girders within the smallest compass. " The 
cylinders," says the report of the proceedings of the Institution of 
Civil Engineers " obtained, for the column of brickwork built 


inside them afterwards, a foundation as solid as rock itself, and 
one not likely to be disturbed by any changes which may occur 
in the bed of the river by the scour caused by the Thames em- 
bankment, the scour being a source of evil which has hitherto 
proved fatal to the foundations of nearly all our metropolitan 
bridges. Again, with the superstructure, although the space is 
moderate 154 feet yet the quantity of metal required in each 
of these girders amounts to 200 tons, and the skilful way it has 
been massed together to afford the requisite strength, and yet 
give little indication of it in its light and almost elegant appear- 
ance, is certainly unsurpassed." 

The railway bridge over the Thames at Battersea is the widest 
railway bridge in the world, being 132 feet wide, as well as more 
than 900 long. It consists of four river spans of 175 f ee t i n the 
clear, and two land spans of 65 feet and 70 feet respectively. It 
forms the key to the intricate network of high level lines at 
Battersea, and it provides ten separate means of access to the 
Victoria Station. In the tests applied, equal to the weight of 
the rails fully occupied by engines, the greatest settlement in 
any place was less than an inch. 

The Forth railway bridge will be a remarkable structure. 
Hitherto the largest railway bridge in this country is the 
Britannia, with a span of 465 feet. The Forth bridge has a span 
of 1,700 feet, -a ratio of I to 3*65. Now, as it is calculated that 
the average stature of a new-born infant is 19*34 inches, whilst 
the average height of the Guardsmen sent out to Egypt has been 
officially given at 5 feet loj inches, these figures also have a ratio 
of I to 3 '65. Hence, to appreciate the size of the Forth bridge, 
we have merely to suggest the following simple rule of three 
sum : As a Grenadier Guardsman is to a new-born infant, so is 
the Forth bridge to the largest railway bridge yet built in this 
country. Bridges a few feet wider in span than the Britannia 
have been built elsewhere, but they are baby bridges after all. 

At the point where this bridge is to be built, the Firth of 
Forth is divided by the island of Inchgarvie into two unequal 
channels, but the depth of water in each is such that a smaller 
span than 1,700 feet could not be economically adopted for either 
channel. North of Inchgarvie the maximum depth of water is 
218 feet, and south of the same 197 feet. In the former channel 
the bottom is of hard trap rock, and in the latter partly of rock 


and partly of extremely stiff boulder clay. It is not the treach- 
erous character of the bed of the Forth, therefore, but the depth 
of water which precludes the construction of intermediate piers. 
Pneumatic apparatus, say the authorities, is inapplicable to such 
depths as 200 feet, and no responsible engineer would care to 
found the piers of an important structure upon a bottom which 
he had no means of examining by diving apparatus or other- 
wise. Hence it was resolved to erect, as the Act passed this 
year, 1882, expresses it: "a continuous girder bridge, having 
two spans of 1,700 feet, two of 675 feet, fourteen of 168 feet, and 
six of 50 feet, and giving a clear headway for navigation purposes 
of 150 feet above high-water spring tides." 

When the proposal was submitted for the consideration of 
Parliament, a model of the central portion was exhibited, on 
a scale of 40 feet to the inch, showing the two main spans in their 
entirety, and also each of the two side or subsidiary spans, 
leaving the shore ends out of view. These two main spans are 
1,700 feet in length, with a headway of 150 feet. The two side 
spans have the same height of headway, but are only 650 feet in 
length. The breadth of the bridge itself is about 35 feet at the 
centre, and it is 132 feet wide at the piers. The central pier rests 
upon a small island named Inchgarvie, and is formed of four 
columns, 350 feet in height, braced together laterally, with lattice 
work in the form of a St. Andrew's cross. These pillars rise 200 
feet above the level of the roadway, just as in Brunei's bridge, 
at Charing Cross, the old red brick towers used to rise above the 
footway. Tension girders descend from the height on either 
side in a graceful slope towards the roadway, where they meet 
two tubular girders springing from the bottom of the pier 
the point of their meeting being about 600 feet from the centre 
of that portion of the railway which lies within the pier. " As a 
similar system of lattice work, both from above and from beneath, 
springs from the piers on either side of this central pier, a space 
of 350 feet in the centre is left clear of the cantilevered system 
of support above described. This interval is spanned by a bridge 
like Sir John Hawkshaw's bridge at Charing Cross, the support 
being entirely from above." There are 500 feet free space in the 
centre of each span which will be available for high-masted 
vessels. The frame work is knit together within by a combina- 
tion of transverse girders, and it is upon these that the roadway 


is so carried at a height of 150 feet above high-water mark. The 
bridge, which is to be throughout constructed of steel, is to carry 
a double line of rails, will be a mile and a half in length, and is 
calculated to bear a strain up to the full requirement of the 
Board of Trade. The principle of construction resorted to is 
that of continuous girders made up of cantilevers and central 

In some interesting particulars mentioned by Mr. B. Baker, 
one of the engineers, to the British Association at Southampton, 
he says it would probably be conceded by every one that a girder 
bridge would prove stiffer than a suspension bridge ; in the case 
of the Forth bridge, it will also be cheaper. In a long span 
bridge the weight of the structure itself constitutes the chief 
portion of the load, whilst the pressure of the wind is at least as 
important an element as the rolling load itself, to carry which is 
the sole useful mission of the bridge. In a properly designed 
continuous girder for a long span bridge the mass of metal will 
be concentrated near the piers, where it will act with the smallest 
leverage and produce the least bending movement. In an 
ordinary suspension bridge, with stiffening girder vertically to 
provide for the rolling load, and horizontally to meet wind 
stresses, the mass of metal will be somewhat greater towards the 
centre of the bridge than at the piers, and consequently for a 
given mass the movement will be much less in the continuous 
girder than in the suspension bridge. Thus the Forth bridge 
superstructure weighs but two tons per foot run at the centre of 
the 1,700 feet span, and thirteen and a half tons per foot run at 
the piers ; whilst in a suspension bridge, as already stated, the 
weight of superstructure per lineal foot would be somewhat 
greater at the centre than at the piers. This consideration, 
coupled with the facts that suspension links are more costly than 
girder work, that a suspension bridge requires a very costly 
anchorage, and that the contingencies and risks during erection 
in a stormy estuary are very great, explains why, in such a case 
as the Forth bridge, well-designed continuous girders form a 
cheaper, as well as a far stiffer, structure than a suspension bridge 
with stiffening girder. 

Mr. Baker tells us that the width for the superstructure was 
determined after very careful consideration. Since the fall of the 
Tay bridge, engineers generally, and the Board of* Trade in 


particular, have vividly realized the fact that the severest wrench 
to which a railway viaduct is subject arises, not from the vertical 
stress due to the loading of both lines of rails with locomotives 
throughout, but to the diagonal stress, due to the combined 
action of the ordinary rolling load and a violent hurricane. In 
the case of the Forth bridge this stress would act at an angle of 
about 45 degrees, so that, were it not for the dead weight of the 
structure, the required strength would be the same horizontally 
as vertically, and the economical width would be the same as 
the economical depth. Although the dead weight modifies this 
conclusion, it was obvious that the bridge should be a continuous 
girder of varying depth on plan as well as on elevation, and 
investigation showed the economical width of superstructure to 
be about 32 feet at the centre and 132 feet at the piers. 

It was open to consideration whether the wind stresses should 
be resisted by bracing together both the top and bottom mem- 
bers of the girder, or the bottom members alone. The author, 
however, never had any doubt that, as stresses must sooner or 
later be brought down to the masonry piers, they had better be 
brought down at once by the shortest route along the bottom 
members only. The top members are therefore spaced at the 
distance of from 33 feet to 27 feet apart, centre to centre, and are 
unconnected by wind bracing. Each of the main vertical and 
diagonal struts consists of a pair of tubes spread out at the base 
like a bridge pier, and the wind stresses on the bracing between 
the tubes are much reduced thereby. In like manner are the 
wind stresses on the bracing of the bottom member reduced by 
the spreading out of the legs of the cantilevers, and the general 
stresses on the web members by the tapering depth from the 
piers towards the ends of the cantilevers. 

Mr. Baker tells us that, though the works will be on an 
unusually large scale, no special difficulty will arise with 
respect to the foundations. The island of Inchgarvie is of trap 
rock, and the central pier at that spot will consist of four 
cylindrical masses of concrete and rubble-work faced with 
granite, and having a diameter of 45 feet at the top and 70 feet 
at the bottom. The height above water will be 18 feet, and 
the depth below the same will vary from 24 feet to 70 feet. 
After the sloping face of the rock foundations has been cut into 
steps, wrought-iron caissons will be floated out, lowered into 


place, and filled with concrete, lowered through the water in 
hopper-bottomed skips. Queensfeny pier will be founded on 
boulder clay. Open-topped cylindrical caissons, 70 feet dia- 
meter, with an external and internal skin 7 feet 6 inches apart, 
will be floated out and lowered into place. The piers will be 
carried down at least 10 feet into the boulder clay, which will 
give depths ranging from 68 feet to 88 feet below high water, 
and 1 8 feet less at low water in the respective cylinders. The 
weight of one of the cylindrical piers at Queensferry will be 
16,000 tons, and the combined vertical pressure on the top of 
the pier from the dead weight of superstructure, rolling load, 
and wind pressure will be 8,000 tons ; so the load on the clay 
will average about 6 tons per square foot over the area of the 

The total length of the great continuous girder will be 5,330 
feet, or say a mile, and of the viaduct approaches 2,754 feet, or 
rather over half a mile. The piers will be of rubble masonry, 
faced with granite, and the superstructure of iron lattice girders. 
There will be a strong parapet and wind screen to protect the 

About 42,000 tons of steel will be used in the superstructure 
of the main spans, and 3,000 tons of wrought iron in that of the 
viaduct approach. The total quantity of masonry in the piers 
and foundations will be about 125,000 cubic yards, and the 
estimated cost of the entire work, upon the basis of the prices at 
which the original suspension bridge was contracted for, is about 
1,500,000. Dr. Siemens has said "The Firth of Forth is 
about to be spanned by a bridge exceeding in grandeur any- 
thing as yet attempted by the engineer." 

Before closing this chapter we may refer to what in some 
sense may be regarded as a continuous viaduct the proposed 
" overhead " railway at Liverpool. Railways of this sort have for 
some time been in operation in New York. The first experi- 
ment was tried in 1867, with half a mile of line, what was called 
the " One-legged " line, from its being carried on a single row 
of central columns placed between the kerb of the footway and 
roadway, and supported from the columns on radiating wrought- 
iron brackets. This was first worked by a fixed engine and 
cable. It was, however, a failure. A new Company, under the 
title of the New York Elevated Railway Company^ purchased 


the interest of the original promoters for a small sum, and 
extended the line a distance of about five miles, working by 
small locomotives. " The Gilbert Elevated Railway, which was 
planned to administer the greater part of the elevated railway 
system of New York, was incorporated June 17, 1872. Though 
obviously the offspring of the original Greenwich Street line, its 
first conception by Dr. Gilbert, its promoter, embodied much 
originality in construction, mainly in the employment of a 
double row of supporting columns tied together by cross girders, 
a high longitudinal suspending girder for carrying the line, and 
elegant arched girders from column to column over the line 
tying the whole structure together at intervals of 4 feet to 50 

The foundations are composed of from 4 feet to 5 feet of 
brickwork ; into it iron sockets 4 feet long are built, and into 
these the supporting columns are dropped, and the intervening 
space rammed tight with iron shavings and turnings, which rust 
into a cohesive cement-like mass. The minimum clear height 
of the structure, says Mr. George Maw, is 14 feet and of the 
rail level 20 feet ; but as the line does not follow the smaller 
undulations of the streets, the rail level is occasionally raised 
30 feet above the roadway. The longitudinal wrought-iron 
girders, lightly constructed of angle and "T" iron about 3^ feet 
deep, and extending from column to column, directly support 
the permanent way, which consists of " ties " or sleepers 6 inches 
deep and 7 inches wide, upon which the rail, weighing 56 Ib. to 
the yard, is fixed to the standard gauge of 4 feet 8 \ inches. The 
stations at intervals of about half a mile at the intersections of 
all the main avenues and streets, are approached by easy flights 
of stairs at each end of the platforms, which are 140 feet in length, 
covered with corrugated iron, and provided with waiting-rooms 
and ticket offices. The motor cars, in the centre of which are 
placed the boiler and engine, weigh about 30,000 Ibs. each, and 
cost about .1,000 ; they are enclosed all round and provided 
with plate-glass windows at sides and ends. All the four wheels 
of the car are coupled together and directly connected with the 
engine power. The streets and avenues in New York being 
mostly at right angles, the curves in the railway in passing from 
one to the other are necessarily sudden, but they are accom- 
plished with a radius of 90 feet and 103 feet for the inner and 



outer lines respectively. The position of the columns at these 
points has to be varied and modified to suit the widths of the 
intersecting streets, but no difficulty is found in so placing them 
as to interfere but little with the traffic. The speed of train is 
thirty miles an hour; but with stops at stations the average 
train speed of travelling is not above fifteen miles an hour. 

A similar work in England has been approved by Parliament. 
The Liverpool docks stretch along the frontage of the river 
Mersey, from north to south, for seven miles, and the intended 
railway will run parallel with the docks, on a high level above 


the ground. The line will commence near the northern boun- 
dary of the Mersey Dock Board's Liverpool estate, in the 
adjoining borough of Bootle, and terminate at the Herculaneum 
Dock, in Toxteth Park. There will be stations at different 
points close to the line of docks. The line will be. carried 
chiefly on piers and columns at an elevation of from 15 to 2Q 
feet above the roadway, and will pass over several thoroughfares 
leading from the interior of the city to the river. The Dock 
Board has agreed to erect twelve bridges at different points, the 
spans of which are to be 50 feet and 60 feet in width. The railway 


will, at several points, cross over the Lancashire and Yorkshire, 
and the London and North Western lines. The railway, which 
is to be a double line throughout, will cost 650,000 for 
construction only, no purchase of land or compensation being 
required. The fares to be charged are threepence a mile for 
first-class passengers, twopence a mile for second-class, and a 
penny a mile for third-class. Passengers only are to be carried. 
The line is to be leased and worked by the London and North 
Western, or the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company. 

The Great International Railway suspension bridge over the 
Niagara river was erected for the purpose of connecting the New 
York Central and the Great Western and Canada Railways, 
and the cost was contributed in equal proportions by the two 
companies. By its means an unbroken communication is 
maintained between New York and Boston and the western 
part of Canada without change of carriage. It cost 400,000 
dollars, and was opened on the 8th of March, 1855. The plan 
adopted in the construction of this bridge differs from that 
usually followed in England. Instead of flat wrought-iron 
plate links, connected together by pins passing through their 
extremities, a simple wire cable is employed, or rather iron wire 
cables, each 10 inches in diameter and composed of 3,640 separate 
wires. These cables are capable of carrying a weight of 12,000 
tons, while the actual load never exceeds 1,000 tons. The wire 
ropes are securely anchored in the solid rock, 30 feet below the 
surface, and they pass over the summits of four solid stone 
towers 80 feet in height. Besides the wire cables, there are 
624 suspending rods, of a carrying strength of 18,720 tons; 
these support the roadway at different parts, and are connected 
with the roadway above. The space between the towers is 800 
feet, and the "railway track," as it is called in America, is 250 
feet above the surface of the river. Absolute rigidity is not 
secured, which cannot be attained in suspension bridges, but the 
Niagara Railway suspension bridge is sufficiently rigid to allow 
of laden trains to pass over it at a speed of five miles an hour. 

A picturesque railway bridge on the Pennsylvania line is that 
at Conemaugh, over a river of the same name. 

Before leaving this part of the subject, a word must be said 
in reference to level-crossing stations. It frequently occurs in 
the construction of railways that they have to intersect existing 



roads, which it would be difficult to cross except at the same 
level. Sometimes by a modification of the gradient of the line 
or of the road, the one may be taken over or under the other, 
but where railroads traverse great extents of level country, as in 


Lincolnshire and Cambridge, it would be impossible to take the 
one class of roads above the other except by a constant series of 
embankments, along which either the line or the road must pass. 
To overcome these difficulties, level crossings are provided, and 




attendants are put in charge of the gates. Such gates are of 
several kinds and sizes ; sometimes four are employed ; and 
sometimes it is considered that two large ones are sufficient 
The sketch represents a pair of such as are commonly used on 
the Great Northern Railway. They are massive, strengthened 
with iron, and hung on stout timbers deeply imbedded in the 
earth. They are twenty-six feet and a half in length, and cost 
about $o. There are small wickets for foot-passengers. In the 
middle of each gate is a large round board, painted red, by 
means of which an approaching train may see the gates closed 
across the line. At night a red light is substituted. 


In some instances safety gates for level-crossings have been 
adopted. They can be opened by the movement of a hand- 
lever, connected with distance signals, and also with signals at 
the crossing. By throwing the lever over, danger signals are 
raised, and the gates are unlocked and closed across the railway: 
the reverse operation frees the line and again locks the gates 
upon the highroad. As it is impossible for the gates to be 
opened without the signals being simultaneously raised, and as 
the latter cannot be released until the gates are again closed 
and locked, safety is ensured. One man can work both the 
signals and gates. 


Temporary and Permanent Way. Broad and Narrow Gauge. Break ot 
Gauge. " Clever but Theoretical." Broad Gauge Changed to Narrow. 
Formation of the Line. The Road Laid. Rigidness or Elasticity of 
Roads. Ballast. Burnt Clay. Stone Sleepers. Wooden Sleepers. 
Creosoting Sleepers. Longitudinal Sleepers. Chairs. Keys. Rails. 
Controversies. Smoothness of Track. Rails Kept Warm. Fish Plates. 
Cast-iron Rails. Wrought-iron Rails. Steel Rails. " Creeping " of 
Rails. Repair of Permanent Way. Plate-layers. Duties of Plate- 
layers. Enemies of the Permanent Way. Water Troughs on Perma- 
nent Way. Opening of a Line. Opening of London and Bedford 

AVING described the chief works in 
the construction of a railway, the per- 
manent way, as it is called, comes 
under consideration. The term is, as 
a matter of fact, applied to that por- 
tion of a line that is the least perma- 
nent of the whole, and it requires 
continual repairs and replacement to 
maintain it in proper condition. The 
word, however, is employed in contra- 
distinction from the temporary way 
laid down for the use of the contractor in the construction of 
the line. 

Here at the outset we may deal with the question of gauge. 
This subject has involved a large expenditure of time, discussion, 
and money. The original width of the coal tramroads in the 
North of England, which virtually determined the British gauge, 
was not fixed on any scientific theory ; it was adopted simply 
because of its practical convenience, five feet being the customary 
width of the gates through which the "way-leaves " led. When 
the Liverpool and Manchester line was projected, Mr. George 
Stephenson, the engineer, saw no reason to depart from the 

Initial letter represents Conway Castle and part of its Tubular and Sus- 
pension Bridges. 



gauge generally established, and the Liverpool and Manchester 
Railway was laid down with the gauge of four feet eight inches 
and a half. The branch lines were necessarily constructed in 
the same way, since the engines and carriages would otherwise 
have been unable to pass from one to the other ; and when the 
great main lines were planned to lead southwards to the metro- 
polis, uniformity of gauge was indispensable. 

Some engineers were of opinion that the narrowness of the 
gauge thus selected involved a crowding of the machinery of 
the engines that was inconvenient both to the builder and the 
cleaner ; and regret was expressed that the gauge had not been 
fixed a few inches wider. Further experience, however, showed 
that these difficulties might be surmounted, and the requisite 
means for the prevention of the evils referred to were, to a great 
extent, provided. 

The question was under discussion when a great change took 
place. Mr. Brunei, who had been appointed the engineer of 
the Great Western Railway, suggested that a gauge of seven 
feet would be preferable. The proposal was startling. When 
laid before Mr. Robert Stephenson, the engineer of the London 
and Birmingham line, he reported unfavourably upon it, and a 
divergence of opinion arose between the two Boards, which 
eventually led them to abandon the idea which had till then been 
entertained of having a common metropolitan terminus for the 
two lines. 

An elaborate exposition of his views upon the subject was 
made by Mr. Brunei, in several reports he addressed to the 
Directors. He admitted that in a continuous line of traffic a 
departure from the established gauge would occasion inconven- 
ience, and that in the case of the Great Western Railway it 
would almost amount to a prohibition of communication with 
another line running north from London. But he considered 
that as the new line was to be carried through a district in which 
no railways existed, it could have no connection with any other 
of the main lines, and that as the branches would complete the 
communication with the districts through which the line would 
pass, the Great Western system would be independent of other 
railways for its traffic. He even maintained that the want of 
connection with other railways would be advantageous, inasmuch 
as it would be a means of securing a monopoly of railway com- 


munication in the West of England and South Wales in the 
hands of the Great Western Company. The Directors were 
satisfied, and Parliament was induced to sanction the rescinding 
of a Standing Order which had prescribed the narrow gauge for 
general adoption. 

Other gauges were adopted for some other lines. Mr. 
Braithwaite first chose five feet for the Eastern Counties and 
Blackwall lines, and five feet six was used in Scotland. The Ulster 
Company made twenty-five miles of the railway from Belfast to 
Dublin on the six feet two inches scale ; while the Drogheda 
Company, which set out from Dublin to meet the Ulster line, 
adopted a gauge of five feet two inches. When the discrepancy 
was complained of by the Directors of the Ulster line, they were 
answered by the Irish Board of Works, that though it looked a 
little awkward, and although the two ends were completed, there 
was so little chance of the intervening part ever being finished, 
that therefore no harm was likely to be done. The subject, 
however, was referred to General Pasley : he consulted the lead- 
ing authorities, and finally adopted five feet three inches as the 
national gauge for Ireland, being the mean of all their opinions. 

Into the theoretical advantages of the two systems we need 
not enter : practical considerations were predominant. " The 
traffic of the West of England," said Mr. Sidney at the time, 
" requires not huge, unwieldy carriages and trucks, but handy 
wagons, which may, without inordinate trouble or expense, be 
run into small road-stations and sidings, to which a farmer may 
send his couple of fat oxen, or his score of sheep, or his load of 
corn, in conjunction with one or two more neighbours." But 
of such traffic there was little on the Great Western Railway, 
though it traversed rich agricultural districts, because, he re- 
marked, "the whole machinery is on too vast, costly, and 
magnificent a scale." 

The difference in the original outlay between the broad and 
narrow gauge railways was of great importance. Two lines 
of rails of the broad gauge were fourteen feet wide, and two of 
the narrow-gauge are nine feet five inches wide, the difference 
being within an inch of another track of narrow-gauge railway. 
Mr. Brunei also made his tunnels six feet wider than those on 
the narrow gauge ; but of this, only four feet seven incjies could 
strictly be chargeable to the gauge. The increased cost of land 


three-quarters of an acre per mile was an item of moment. 
The line was carried through towns and buildings, and where the 
works were of magnitude, the difference of four feet seven inches 
in width to every embankment, viaduct, and bridge above 
ground, and every cutting and tunnel below, involved an outlay 
of considerable importance, and demanded a proportionate return 
in the shape of interest on the capital expended. In short, it is 
estimated that where a narrow-gauge line would require 6,000 
per mile, 7,000 would be necessary for the broad ; and where 
the works cost, as on the Manchester and Leeds Railway, more 
than 40,000 a mile, the broad gauge would per se require an 
augmented expenditure of from 6,000 to 8,000 per mile. 

The practical evils resulting from the break of gauge formed 
the chief consideration that determined the issue. The incon- 
venience to passengers was great, and the difficulties as respects 
the goods traffic were greater. The removal involved loss, pil- 
ferage, detention, besides a money tax, estimated at from is. 6d. 
to 2s. 6d. per ton. At Gloucester it occupied about an hour to 
remove the contents of a wagon, full of miscellaneous merchan- 
dise, from one gauge to another. An ordinary train might con- 
tain " loose commodities, such as bricks, slates, lime or limestone, 
and chalk, flags, clay, manure, salt, coal or coke, timber and 
deals, dye-woods, iron, iron-ore, lead and metals, cast-iron pots, 
grates and ovens, grindstones, brimstone, bones and hoofs, bark, 
hides and sealskins, oil-cake, potatoes, onions, and other vege- 
tables ; cheese, chairs, and furniture ; hardware, earthenware, 
dry salteries, groceries, provisions, cotton wool, oils, wines, spirits, 
and other liquids ; manufactured goods, fish and eggs, ripe fruit, 
etc. Now let us contemplate the loss by damage done to the 
goods on this line alone, by reason of the break of gauge caus- 
ing the removal of every article. In the hurry the bricks are 
miscounted, the slates chipped at the edges, the cheeses cracked, 
the ripe fruit and vegetables crushed and spoiled ; the chairs, 
furniture, and oil-cakes, cast-iron pots, grates, and ovens, all more 
or less broken ; the coals turned into slack, the salt short of 
weight, sundry bottles of wine deficient, and the fish too late for 
market. Whereas, if there had not been any interruption of 
gauge, the whole train would, in all probability, have been at its 
destination long before the transfer of the last article, and with- 
out any damage or delay." It was estimated that the expense 


of each interchange of traffic was equivalent to the cost of its 
conveyance over one hundred miles of railway. No wonder that 
a Royal Commission declared its opinion that " the continued 
existence of the double gauge is a national evil." 

The experiment of the great engineer " clever, but theoreti- 
cal," as he has been called came to a costly conclusion. In 
1846 it had been enacted that all the railways in Great Britain, 
except the Great Western, should henceforth be of the gauge of 
four feet eight and a half, and in Ireland of five feet three. In 
1867 there were 1,456 miles of the broad gauge existing, and 
there were twenty-six places where the two gauges met, and 
where a transfer of traffic had to take place. A mixed or double 
gauge had been introduced in various directions, but at length 
it was resolved that the broad gauge should be altered to the 
narrow, in, at first, some portions, and then on the remainder of 
the Great Western system. The undertaking had to be carried 
out in a comprehensive and also an energetic manner, so as to 
lay as brief an arrest as possible on the through traffic of the 
respective lines. The plan adopted between Gloucester and 
Hereford in 1869 has been described by an observer whose 
narrative we abridge. 

The work was commenced first by mixing the gauges in the 
extensive Gloucester station-yard a matter of peculiar difficulty, 
that station being a single platform one ; secondly, by mixing 
the gauges from Gloucester to Grange Court, where the Gloucester 
and Hereford 'Railway branches off. This having been com- 
pleted, the Gloucester and Hereford was closed for a fortnight 
between Grange Court and Hereford, passengers being conveyed 
by ten first-class coaches put on the road. A force of 450 men 
was selected from the gangs regularly at work on the Hereford 
division of the Great Western Railway, and they were to lodge 
during the execution of the work in a broad-gauge train of 40 
covered wagons, carefully whitewashed, and supplied with an 
abundance of clean straw and new sacks ; the staff occupying a 
first-class carriage for the night. " At four o'clock on Sunday 
morning the sleeping train was in motion, and an engineer had 
gone ahead setting up a flag-pole at the end of each gang's 
length of work for the day. The train stopped at each flag- 
pole, and a ganger and gang of 22 men, furnished with a day's 
provisions, jumped out with all the necessary tools, also a cask 


of water, 'devil/ iron crock, and fuel. This process was con- 
tinued throughout the whole length of line 450 men could be 
spread over. Soon a line of smoke was to be seen ascending, 
and the work of getting breakfast was actively going on. The 
men brought their own food a week's supply as it was ar- 
ranged that should the work extend beyond that time through 
bad weather or any unforeseen circumstance, they were to be 
allowed to stop for a day to get fresh supplies. Cocoa seemed 
the favourite beverage, the food various cold bacon, meat, or 
bread and cheese." The men were not long over breakfast, and 
soon the work of narrowing was going on. The first night's halt 
was called at Fawley. It now became evident that Ross would 
be reached on Tuesday, and bills were issued announcing the 
commencement of traffic by rail between Hereford and Ross on 
Wednesday. Ross was actually reached on Tuesday, and the 
sleeping train was put into a loop line at that station for the 
night. " By Thursday night the whole work was accomplished, 
and the narrow-gauge trains, worked by the proper platforms, 
at Grange Court Junction, taking throughout the proper lines 
for Gloucester." In five days the whole line, 22 miles long, was 
commenced and finished. 

Great astonishment has recently been occasioned by an an- 
nouncement that American engineers had changed the gauge 
of 200 miles of American railway in 12 hours. Bearing in mind 
that this involved only moving a nailed-down rail two or three 
inches, it will be seen that the narrowing of the Gloucester and 
Hereford Railway as above described in five days was a much 
more surprising engineering feat. Of the conduct of the 450 
men employed it would be difficult to speak too highly during 
these five days of incessant toil. Not a single instance of 
disobedience, intoxication, or display of bad temper occurred ; 
on every side the engineers directing the work met with most 
cheerful obedience. 

We now come to the subject of the formation of the line itself. 
No excellence of superstructure can compensate for insufficient 
earthworks. For double lines of the ordinary gauge the forma- 
tion width on embankments is from 30 to 36 feet ; in cuttings 
it varies from 26 to 30 feet. Between the two lines is the " six 
foot," as it is called, and for it there should be 6 feet to 6 feet 
6 inches allowed, and 7 feet to 8 feet 6 inches for the sides. 


The width of the side spaces in cuttings leaves room for a shelf 
between the edge of the ballast and the ditch, so that any wash 
from the surface of the road-bed is prevented from passing into 
and choking the ditches ; a similar level space is usually left 
between the outside of the ditch and the foot of the slope itself, 
to catch the wash from the upper surfaces. 

When the earthwork has been formed, the drainage completed, 
and the shrinking allowed for, the ballast, or at least part of it, 
has to be laid. Its uses are various : it distributes the weight 
of the load from the sleepers on to the larger bearing surface of 
the road ; it helps to fix the sleepers in their places ; it drains 
away the surface water ; and, being in its own nature inter- 
mediate between the rigidity of rock and the softness of common 
earth, it gives a certain uniform elasticity to the road. It may 
seem strange to speak of a line of railway as elastic, and it may 
be thought that the more rigid foundation a road of iron can 
rest on, the better. In America the problem of deflection and 
looseness of rail-joints, versus anvil-like rigidity of joint- fasten- 
ings, has been the basis of permanent-way discussion ever since 
improvement began. But this arose from the peculiar nature of 
the climate, where, at a particular time of the year, hardened 
roads prevail. " Elasticity is defined to be a compromise between 
smoothness and hardness that is, the construction may ensure 
a regular and even movement, and yet there may be something 
not perfectly unyielding that is, not harsh like a pavement ; 
for it is obvious that although timber may be perfectly solid and 
hard, yet with a great pressure, like the weight of a railway 
train, there may be a certain degree of ' give ' which avoids that 
grating, crashing sensation which is inseparable from a stone- 
based way." When the Manchester and Leeds line was made, 
the bottom of a rock cutting was dressed to a surface, and the 
rails were spiked directly to it. But a few weeks experience 
was sufficient to show that such rigidity was undesirable ; the 
rails were taken up, and the line was relaid in the usual way. 
It is a curious fact that if there is not an absolute break in 
the line of rails, a train may proceed safely upon a very 
undulating and shaky surface ; although, of course, this is not 
advisable. Firmness, without rigidity, is wanted in a railway 
road-bed, and this is best secured by ballast. 

The materials that are used for ballasting a line are various, 


the engineer being in part dependent on the resources of the 
country through which he has to pass. Very hard materials give 
rigidity to the road, and cause it to " batter out." On the other 
hand, sand hardly deserves the name of ballast. It is not firm 
under pressure ; it will not drain well ; it rapidly washes out ; by 
being blown about by the trains, it gets into the bearings of the 
machinery ; by lying on the tread of the rail it greatly increases 
resistance, and thereby adds to the consumption of fuel and oil ; 
it also injures the upholstery of the carriages, and is a nuisance 
to the passengers. It cannot be depended on for a smooth 
track, least of all in winter. Gravel dredged from some river 
bottom like that of the Trent, and broken stone are the best, 
especially where the gravel has a mixture of clean sand ; but 
burned clay, cinder, shells, broken bricks and culm or small coal 
are all employed. Stone, when broken for ballast, should not 
exceed 2\ inches in any diameter. Limestone rock is durable, 
but is of so binding a character as to pack too readily when 
used as ballast. Gneiss rock answers well for ballast, and breaks 
easily. On the Great Eastern, broken sandstone, though soft, 
gives an easy road. Slate rock is the poorest kind of stone 
ballast, being rapidly decomposed in wet weather. " Hard stone 
ballast should never be used in cuttings. Gravel, if too fine, will 
not drain well ; if too coarse it will not pack sufficiently to pre- 
vent the sleepers from sinking into it. It must be carefully 
selected also as to its quality. If from the sea-shore, it will 
hardly bind at all ; if mixed with loam, it will never drain well." 
If it has a natural mixture of clean sand, it will be best quality. 
Burned clay is often used for ballast, especially on the lines 
near the metropolis that run over the London clay field. In 
burning it a wood fire is first lighted ; on this some bituminous 
coal is placed, and when this is well kindled, a thin layer of clay 
is put round and on it. " Clay and coal are then placed alter- 
nately the clay in lumps, never so thickly as to choke the fire. 
In this way, a bank or kiln of clay, up to any size, may be made 
up and burned. On the Great Northern, these banks are laid 
up, about 200 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 20 feet high." Care 
must be taken that it is burned uniformly. If vitrified, it is 
best ; if under-burned, it will dissolve in wet weather. A ton of 
coal will burn 20 or 25 yards of clay, and with coal at i6s. a ton 
the ballast will cost about is. $d. a yard. 


Twelve inches of ballast are usually laid before the sleepers 
are placed. These are then placed at their proper levels and 
distances, and when bedded as firmly as possible, more ballast 
is deposited around and upon them. If broken stone is used, 
the larger pieces are spread at the bottom, and they will so 
wedge into each other as not to be likely to come to the 
surface. With gravel, the coarser is laid at the bottom. In 
spreading the ballast, provision is made for the escape of water 
from its surface. If this is done well, it may be safely said 
that " the best railways in the world those which do the most 
business at the least cost are the best ballasted." 

We have thus dealt with some parts of what is called " the 
permanent way." But, as we have seen and shall further see, 
all its conditions contradict its idea of permanence. The foun- 
dations of a permanent building are placed at a depth which 
insures uniform support at all seasons, and, convulsions of nature 
excepted, for centuries ; as, for instance, with cathedral towers, 
which have not moved in a thousand years as much as an 
ordinary rail-joint deflects at the passage of a train. A railway 
is on the top of the ground, and is at the mercy of frost and 
thaw, of rain and sun, of cold and heat. Each change of the 
weather alters its resistance, strength, and support. And all 
this is unavoidable. 

We now come to the question of sleepers. Originally it was 
supposed that nothing less solid and durable than blocks of 
stone could carry the iron rails and could stand the hard work 
to which the permanent way would be subjected. These blocks 
were two feet square and a foot thick. On the London and 
Greenwich Railway, and on several other of the early railways, 
granite was used. On the London 
and Birmingham line no fewer than 
152,000 tons weight of stone blocks 
were laid as sleepers, costing about 
180,000. This expense was divi- 
sible into three nearly equal parts : 

one-third for the stone, one-third for the freight from the 
quarries to the Thames, and the remainder for delivery on the 
different parts of the works. 

The setting of the sleepers on which the rails rest is a matter 
of great importance : upon it depends the permanent stability 


of the road. The old method was, after having spread the 
bottom of the excavation, or the top of the embankment, with 
a layer of ashes, small stones, or gravel, to place the blocks 
upon this, with the chairs and rails attached to them ; workmen 
with narrow shovels pushed the ashes or sand underneath the 
blocks, and at the same time beat upon the upper side of the 
block with heavy mallets, till the rails were at the proper level. 
But by such a method, only a very imperfect solidity could be 
given to the foundation, and when the trains ran upon the rails 
the blocks sank, and workmen were required to push more ashes 
or sand underneath to restore them to their proper level, until 
the seats of the blocks became sufficiently firm to resist the 
weight of the passing vehicles. 

When George Stephenson was laying down the Liverpool 
and Manchester line, he compressed and consolidated the foun- 
dation so that the weight of the trains could not make the 
blocks yield. This was done by the impact of the blocks 
themselves, which were successively lifted up, and allowed to 
fall upon the seat on which they were intended permanently to 
rest. The block was dropped from such a height that the effect 
was greater than the direct weight or pressure of the passing 

For the success of this plan, it was necessary that the material 
on which the coating was laid should be firm and solid ; for the 
least subsiding of the foundation would render all the work 
useless. Hence, though it succeeded upon well drained and 
consolidated works, yet in clay, and other yielding soils, other 
means had to be resorted to. In some cases the blocks were 

laid diagonally, instead of vertically, 
as seen in the accompanying dia- 
gram, which was thought to have 
the effect of steadying the rails ; 
while it gave to the workmen access 
to the four sides, to set them right 
if they became displaced. The 
difficulties, however, which attended the use of stone blocks 
at length led to the substitution of wooden sleepers ; and piles 
of stone blocks might for years be seen at roadside stations on 
the London and Birmingham line, whence they were sold for 
about eighteen-pence apiece ; or they may to-day be found on 


railway platforms doing duty as paving kerbstones, the holes 
pierced in them for the pins, and the square hollows cut for the 
chairs, plainly indicating the use to which they were formerly 

Wooden sleepers are now almost f~ 
universally employed. They serve not 
only as a support for the chair and 
rails, but as ties for keeping the line in 
gauge. The material first selected was 

larch, this being considered the most 


durable wood for the purpose, next to 
oak. The trunk of the tree was split in two, and placed with 
the convex side downwards. Timber of larger size is now em- 
ployed for sleepers. They are in general 9 feet long, 10 inches 
wide, and 5 thick. These dimensions help to give a large bear- 
ing surface on the ballast, and their length especially tends to, 
maintain the steadiness of the track, and to prevent rolling. 
Deal is usually employed, because, although it is not so close 
or hard as some other woods, still when properly prepared is 
very durable, owing probably to the resin with which it is im- 
pregnated. In America that kind of pine known as "hem- 
lock," or " hemlock spruce," has been found the best, although 
white oak, chestnut, and all sorts of wood are used. Sleepers 
must always be straight, and of an uniform size ; otherwise the 
running would be " poor," as it is called. 

For some years past railway sleepers have been subjected 
to chemical treatment, which enables them better to resist 
moisture and consequent decay. The Midland Railway thus 
deals with all its sleepers at some works established for the 
purpose at Beeston Sidings, near Nottingham. Probably few 
travellers who have passed this spot have failed to notice the 
enormous stacks of sleepers piled here. In each stack there 
are from 1,200 to 1,700; and, as there are some 150 stacks, 
the number of sleepers on the ground will be over 200,000. 
They are all Memel timber or deal, and they are all- "in the 
white " ; though, before they leave these sidings, they will be as 
black as if they had been dipped in ink. They will, in fact, not 
only be placed in creosote, but creosote will be soaked into 
them a process which will make them comparatively imper- 
vious to moisture and to decay. By means of steam pumps the 


air is first sucked out of the sleepers, and then creosote is forced 
into them. 

We enter a little house. It contains an engine of 10 horse- 
power, the force of which can be made to work first one and 
then the other of two pumps. The one is a " vacuum " pump, 
the other a "pressure" pump. Just outside the engine-room, 
placed a few yards apart, are two large iron cylinders, in form 
like the boilers of a locomotive, only much larger, being 54 feet 
in length and of nearly 6 feet diameter. A great iron door 
opens at one end of each, and looking within we see two lines of 
rails 3 feet apart running along the bottom from the furthest 
end towards the door, and there they are connected with a line 
of railway of the same gauge that leads up the yard to the stacks 
of sleepers. Along these rails, drawn by a horse, come some 
"lorries " or "trams " with little low wheels, just high enough to 
clear the rails, and each tram loaded with nearly 50 sleepers, piled 
in such a form that the tram and its load just fits the shape of 
the cylinder. One after another several trams are brought to 
the mouth of the cylinder, and then are pushed along the line of 
rails inside. Including some 30, previously laid upon the flaor 
to fill up interstices, there are now some 300 sleepers in all to 
be treated. The door of the cylinder is closed ; the engine-man 
starts his vacuum engine, which will suck the air out of the 
cylinder, and he will continue this process till there is a vacuum 
equal to 1 6 pounds on the square inch. When this has been 
done, he opens a cock which communicates with a tank of 
creosote underneath, and thereupon the cylinder sucks up the 
creosote, so that, in about ten minutes, the cylinder of sleepers 
which, a few minutes before, was, so far as possible, a vacuum, 
has filled itself with creosote. But with this the engine-man is 
not content. He now gets his pressure pump to work, and 
forces creosote into the cylinder, and into the timber contained 
therein. The cylinder was, as we have already said, full ; but 
the pump continues to force the fluid in until the pressure is as 
high as no pounds on the square inch, and no less than 750 
gallons of the creosote have been forced not only into the 
cylinder but into the sleepers. This being accomplished, a valve 
is opened, and the surplus creosote that is, all that has not 
soaked into the wood is allowed to run out. The door of the 
Cylinder is then opened ; and the trollies, with their loads of 


sleepers, are drawn out. The whole process has occupied about 
two hours. Telegraph poles varying from 22 to 54 feet in 
length, are similarly treated. 

What creosote is may perhaps be known to some through the 
painful lessons taught by the dentist in the treatment of teeth, 
when a single drop has a palpable effect. The treatment at 
Beeston Sidings is not, however, by drops, but by gallons, 
averaging from perhaps ij to 2\ gallons each sleeper, the best 
close-grained timber taking the least, and the open-grained 
" woolly " wood taking the most. The work is best done in dry 
weather. If the sleepers to be operated upon are very wet or 
are frozen hard, the results are only partially successful ; ordin- 
arily the timber is soaked "to the heart" with the creosote. 
The sleeper when well done should continue sound for 2 1 years. 
All the sleepers now and henceforth laid upon the Midland 
system have to come to Beeston Sidings for treatment. The 
creosote is brought in iron tanks built for the purpose from 
various chemical and gas works, each tank containing some 
2,000 gallons. Ten or a dozen of these may be standing on a 
siding ready to deliver up their contents. The part of Beeston 
Sidings occupied by the creosote works, sleeper stacks, and so 
forth, is nearly a third of a mile in length. 

The distance the sleepers are laid from one another depends 
upon the weight of the rails. On the South Western line they 
were originally laid 5 feet apart, and there were portions long 
remaining where the distance was 4 feet, giving ij square feet 
of bearing per running foot. The usual distance at which they 
are now laid is 3 feet from centre to centre. This gives 2j 
square feet of bearing surface for each running foot of road. The 
lines of heavier traffic, as the Midland and North Western, have a 
distance of 2 feet 6 inches to 2 feet 9 inches between the centres 
of sleepers, giving in the first case 3 square feet, and in the 
second, 273 square feet of bearing per running foot. It has been 
remarked that, with a comparatively wide distance between 
sleepers, the ballast is more likely to be well packed than where 
they are close together. 

The rails are secured to the sleepers by means of chairs. 
Chairs were formerly fixed to the stone blocks by wooden pegs ; 
they are now held to the wooden sleepers by wooden trenails 
and iron spikes. The Midland Company use two oi wood and 


two of iron for each chair ; the wood giving the tighter grasp 
in holding the road to gauge, and the iron giving permanent 
strength and security. So firmly do the trenails hold, that, once 
inserted, they cannot be drawn out again ; if it is necessary 
to release them, they must be cut off with a plug cutter. 
Chairs are of cast iron, the size and 
shape of the cavity corresponding with the 

__^ form and dimensions of the rail ; and 

RAILWAY CHAIR. though depending for their exact shape on 
the opinion of the engineer, their usual appearance is very 
similar. The first rails on the London and Birmingham line 
required a considerable elevation of the chair, which involved 
the danger of its being wrung from the block an effect likely 
to follow in exact proportion to its height. The block was also 
more loosened in the ground by a high chair, and the cost of 
the continual repair thus arising, amounted at one time to half 
the wages expended in maintaining the way in general. The 
weight of the best chairs is 40 pounds each. 

When the rail is laid in the chair, it is secured in its position 
by a wooden key. A key is a small piece of thoroughly 
seasoned oak, that fits into the cavity left between one side 
of the rail and one side of the chair. In order to give to the 
whole greater firmness, the key-wood is steamed, and then 
subjected to a pressure from a hydraulic machine. Its dimen- 
sions are thereby considerably reduced ; and the key being 
retained in a drying-house till required, it is easily forced into 
the chair when necessary, while the moisture of the atmosphere, 
and the weather, make it expand so as to hold the rail with 
great tenacity. So great has been the expan- 
sive power of keys, that they have, in a few 
instances, been known to burst asunder the iron 
LlR RA?L Y> AND chairs in which they were secured. 
On some of the earlier lines the wooden keys were found not 
to last more than about five years ; and as they cost from 8 
to 10 per thousand, and upwards of seven thousand were used 
in a mile of railway with double track and sleepers of three feet 
apart, the expense of renewal became an important item. To 
provide something more permanent, Mr. W. H. Barlow invented 
a kind of hollow or tubular key of wrought iron, which was 
made to press equally against the chair and the rail. 


On the Great Western Railway a peculiar plan was for a long 
while adopted in laying down the sleepers and rails. The rails 
were bridge-shaped, with wide flanges or 
wings, and were secured to continuous bear- 
ings of wood, instead of across the usual 
transverse sleepers. It was considered that less noise, greater 
steadiness of motion, and diminished wear and tear, resulted. 
The longitudinal sleepers were of American pine, and were 
connected by transverse pieces. 

At first the longitudinal sleepers were kept in their position 
by a novel contrivance. Piles of great size and length were 
driven into the road, and the transverse timbers were bolted to 
them. The piles were also regarded as holding the road firmly 
down. The timber used in a mile of this road was about 420 
loads of pine, and 40 loads of hard-wood ; six tons of iron bolts 
and 30,000 wood screws were also required. The cost of the 
first portion, extending from London to Maidenhead, including 
laying, ballasting, sidings, driving, and all such work, amounted 
to ,9,200 per mile. 

Experience, however, proved that the piles, instead of afford- 
ing support to the road, prevented it from settling into its 
natural bed, and the cross timbers had to be detached, and the 
road left to consolidate itself in the usual way, by the weights 
passing over it. 

Various disadvantages were connected with the use of the 
longitudinal system. The bridge rail used with it was deficient 
in vertical stiffness ; and, as the timber could not make up for 
this want, the line sprang on the passage of a train. If the rail 
" gave," the timber of the sleeper must give too, and crush at 
the same time ; and cross-pieces of hard board had to be inter- 
posed between the rail and the sill, so as to secure a continuous 
floor for the rail. It was also thought that the bite of the 
engine-wheels on the rails of the longitudinal timbers was not 
so great as on the cross sleepers. On making a trial one frosty 
morning, Mr. Gray found that the engine slipped so much on a 
level piece of ground that the train could scarcely ascend an 
incline of 16 feet a mile ; but on reaching an incline laid with 
cross-sleepers, the "engine went up like an arrow." The slipping 
re-commenced on reaching another portion of the road laid with 
longitudinal timbers, and again ceased at the cross-laid road. 



An important advantage secured by the cross sleeper road is 
that it gives a wider base of support to a passing train. The 
longitudinal road is only between five and six feet wide, where- 
as the cross sleepers are nine feet in length. The general results 
of experience have led to the longitudinal system being gradu- 
ally abandoned, even on the Great Western, and the line is 
replaced, where required, by the cross-sleeper road. Eventually 
the same plan will be extended over the whole of that system. 
The rail now used by the Great Western is of steel, double- 
headed, eighty pounds weight to the yard. The alteration of 
the gauge of the Great Western has practically involved the 
alteration of almost everything else. It is said that "at the 
present day there is not left upon the line a single construction 
either engine, carriage, wagon, wheel, or spring as origin- 
ally designed." 

We may add that on the questions touching the details of the 
permanent way, there has been, and is, the keenest controversy 
among practical men. The differences have been as lively as 
between opinions on ecclesiastical questions. A gentleman in 
authority playfully remarked to us the other day : "Yes, on this 
subject we quarrel splendidly. We are quite ready to burn one 
another at the stake in our disputes about the permanent 

The earthwork being made firm by its own ample width and 
by good drainage, " the ballast being deep, clean, and moder- 
ately binding, and the sleepers resting uniformly over a broad 
surface, we have a strong and permanent foundation, on which, 
if the rails are well fastened, the whole must inevitably lie 
smoothly and quietly. It is by permanent smoothness in a 
track that we avoid constant crushing and churning of the 
ballast ; avoid crushing and rotting the sleepers ; avoid break- 
ing the chairs or other joint fastenings ; avoid crushing and 
breaking rails ; and that we also avoid the great increase of 
resistance and the largely increased wear and tear of machinery 
always accompanying a bad track." 

How little was known and how much had to be learned with 
regard to rails may be shown by a single fact. At one time 
considerable anxiety was cherished as to the effect that frosty 
weather might produce in glazing the rails with ice. To avert 
this evil, the idea was seriously proposed, and in 1831 was 



protected by patent, of making the rails hollow, and, during the 
winter, filling them with hot water ! 

The weight and form of the rails employed on railroads have 
necessarily been a subject of in- 
creasing interest. How great the 
progress that has been made is 
seen by the fact that the Stockton 
and Darlington line was " laid with 
rails of cast iron joined at every 
four feet," and that the traveller 
found in passing over them " the jerks and jolts were frequent, 
audible, and sensible, resembling exactly the clicking of a mill- 

With regard to the shape of a rail, it should be such that the 
pressure of the passing wheel is as perpendicular downwards 
as possible ; for, if directed sideways, there is not only a loss of 
power, but a tendency to throw the rails out of gauge and to 
throw the trains off the road. 

An increase in the weight of the rails inevitably followed the 
increase of the weights they have had to carry. The rails first 
employed on the Liverpool and Manchester line weighed only 
thirty-five pounds a yard. But in the report of the directors, 
in 1834, it was stated that at particular parts of the road the 
rails were too weak for the heavy engines, and the speed at 
which they moved ; and from the breakages that had taken 
place, the directors were of opinion that it was necessary to 
substitute rails weighing sixty pounds to the yard a change 
which for a while was found perfectly satisfactory. 

One of the most simple and effective improvements with 
regard to rails was the introduction of the fish-plate. It joins 
together the two ends of two rails. 
The word " fish " is probably em- 
ployed here in the nautical sense. 
When a mast has been shot through 
or sprung, it is common to lay a 
piece of timber on each side of it, 
and to tie a rope firmly round ; 
and this, in sailors' phraseology, is 


to " fish " the mast. So with the rails. A strong short plate of 
iron is placed on each side the two ends of the two fails, and 


four bolts are passed through holes prepared for them in the 
plates and the rails. These bolts have a head at one end, and a 
'nut is screwed on at the other, and the effect is that the two rails 
are now practically one, and that the line of rails from end to 
end is as one rail. Allowance has to be made for expansion 
under the heat of a summer sun, and contraction from frost. 

At length the question of the use of wrought iron, and then 
of steel rails, rose into importance. It was seen that the enor- 
mous weights and high velocities which our railways had to 
sustain, the crushing effects of heavy mineral and merchandise 
trains, and also of monster locomotive expresses which weighed 
fifty or sixty tons, necessitated renewals of road of far greatei 
strength than formerly sufficed. Deflection, lamination, split- 
ting, and transverse fractures of rails were of frequent occur- 
rence ; and the difficulty of maintaining the gauge of the line 
not only increased, but created much of the oscillating motion 
which is so unpleasant to the traveller, and so destructive to 
the rolling stock. Not only were the rails worn and torn ; they 
were literally ground by the application of the ponderous breaks 
required to check the trains on approaching stations, in de- 
scending inclines, and whenever needed. Hence, more than 
thirty years ago, Mr. Peter Barlow proposed the use of a cast- 
iron road, and he laid down sixty-two miles of it on the 
South Eastern Railway ; and his brother, Mr. W. H. Barlow, 
recommended the adoption of self-supporting broad-flanged 
wrought-iron rails. This method at the time was regarded as 
superior to every other ; greater evenness of the joints diminish- 
ing the wear and tear of the rolling stock. A 
section of these rails, showing also the way in 
which they were laid, is shown in the diagrams. 
The demand now arose for steel rails. Some of these were 
laid down in 1862 at Rugby, Stafford, and Crewe stations, and 
-| _^|- they wore well. In May of 

Sthat year some steel rails 
J were placed at Camden, par- 

^Nfrf rrj-=r allel with the best descrip- 
tions of iron rails ; and so severe was the test that the latter 
soon gave way, while the former continue to show little appear- 
ance of wear. "We have found," said the chairman of the 
London and North Western, " the steel rails wearing actually 


as long as thirty iron ones." Steel rails, made by the Bessemer 
process, have now almost everywhere superseded iron ones. 

A curious fact with regard to rails has lately been observed. 
It is called the " creeping " of rails. It is said that on lines 
running north and south, the western rail " creeps " and wears 
out faster than the eastern rail ; and the explanation is given in 
the motion of the earth as it turns from the west towards the 
east. Everything that has free motion is dragged after the 
whirling globe ; every wind that blows and every tide that moves 
feels the influence, and the train going north or south is pulled 
over, and presses the one rail more heavily than the other. It 
ought, says the Scientific A rnerican, to be the stronger. 

It is not enough that a railway should be made in all respects 
perfectly good, but it must also be kept good, and known to be 
kept good. Hundreds of miles of artificial roadway, carried 
through deep valleys and over mountain heights, spanning swift 
mountain streams and broad flooding rivers, and piercing ranges 
of hills, resting on the shifting sands of estuaries and oceans, and 
exposed to all the changes of night and day, of summer and 
winter, of rain and storm, of snow and drought, cannot but lay 
the so-called " permanent way " open to numerous and strange 
contingencies which must vitally concern the comfort, and even 
the safety, of everything that passes over it. The road may be 
slowly undermined by springs, or suddenly washed away by 
floods ; the piers of bridges may be loosened or disturbed ; the 
roofs of tunnels may cave in ; or, if nothing worse, culverts 
and drains may get choked ; the sleepers may be rotting ; the 
keys may be loosened from the chairs ; the road may become 
unsteady ; and the carriages may move restlessly and uncom- 
fortably forwards. 

To avoid all this, or to repair any damage as it occurs, the 
permanent way of every line is divided into portions according 
to the nature of the works of from seventeen to thirty miles ; is 
placed under the charge of an " overlooker," and is subdivided 
into "lengths," over each of which is a foreman and a gang of 
men. The duty of the foreman is to visit his portion of the line 
every morning before the first train passes, to see that the keys 
which hold the rails in the chairs are driven home ; that the rails 
are properly in gauge ; and carefully to inspect the, line, the 
fences, and the works. The rules are thus expressed : " Each 


foreman or ganger must walk over his length of line every morn- 
ing and evening on week-days, and, where passenger trains are 
run, once on Sundays, and tighten up all keys and other fasten- 
ings that may be loose ; and he must examine the line, level, 
and gauge of the road, and the state of the joints, marking, and, 
if necessary, repairing such as are defective. Each foreman or 
ganger is required, in the event of a flood, to examine carefully 
the action of the water through the culverts and bridges on 
his length of line ; and should he see any cause to apprehend 
danger to the works, he must immediately exhibit the proper 
signals for the trains to proceed cautiously, or to stop, as neces- 
sity may require, and inform the inspector thereof ; and until 
the inspector arrives, he must take all the precautionary measures 
necessary for securing the stability of the line." 

In case of serious repair being required, and one set of men 
being unable speedily to complete the work, a " relaying party," 
or the " break-down gang," is summoned. 

All this work has, if possible, to be done without impeding the 
traffic, and so skilfully is this arranged that many miles of rails 
can be relaid in a very short space of time, and without public 
inconvenience. This is often extremely difficult, since it is the 
roads that are most used that most need repair. "On the 
Nottingham and Lincoln line," recently remarked a Midland 
Railway inspector, " we have lifted a mile of road in a day ; but 
what are you to do with a line over which a train passes every 
quarter of an hour ? " In all such cases, however, every precau- 
tion is adopted. " While the men are engaged in this work they 
are protected by the red flag, and attended by an official who 
informs them of the approach of a train, when, if any piece of 
rail has been taken up, it is immediately laid down again, and 
temporarily secured in its place for the train to pass over." In 
like manner the driver of the engine is warned before he starts 
on his journey, and, if necessary, by fog-signals, of the proximity 
of the workmen, and he slackens speed before he reaches the 
spot. The men stand clear of the rails, and on the outside of 
the line, and the train passes on its way, probably without any 
of the passengers being aware of what had been going on, or of 
the break that had happened in the line but a few minutes 

Among the minor enemies of the permanent way are the 


2 47 

mouse, the mole, and the toad the foes, as Virgil told us 
eighteen centuries ago, of the threshing floor ; and to prevent 
the burrowing up of the ballast, and the choking of drains, men 
are employed in some districts, who emblazon over their cot- 
tage doors the important title of " Ratcatcher to the London 
and North Western Railway." 

One special addition has been made by the London and 
North Western Railway to the furniture of its permanent way, 
by means of which, at certain points, the engines are able to feed 
themselves while at full speed. The plan is as follows : " An 
open trough, about 440 feet long, 
is laid longitudinally between 
the rails. Into this trough, which 
is filled with water, a dip-pipe 
or scoop attached to the bottom 
of the tender of the running 
train is lowered ; and, at a speed 
of fifty miles an hour, as much 
as 1,070 gallons of water are 
scooped up in the course of a 
few minutes.. The first of such 
troughs was laid down between PEKING UP WATER FROM FEED TROUGH. 

Chester and Holyhead, to enable the express mail to run the 
distance of 84! miles in two hours and five minutes without 
stopping ; and similar troughs have since been laid down at 
Bushey, near London, at Castlethorpe, near Wolverton, and at 
Parkside, near Liverpool. At these four troughs about 130,000 
gallons of water are scooped up daily." 

A railway being completed, and about to be devoted to public 
use, is opened. How this is sometimes done we are able to tell 
from our own experience. 

" All right, sir/' said the engine-driver, as his eye rested on a 
brief official order we had handed to him, and which bore a 
signature which has talismanic powers with all Midland Railway 
people. " All right, sir ; we shall be off directly." The train, 
spic and span new the lot worth perhaps 5,000 was stand- 
ing one Monday morning on the new rails by the new platform, 
under the new glass and iron shed of the recently enlarged 
station at Bedford, and was about to take its first run to London ; 
in fact, to open the line for passenger traffic. Being afflicted 


with what Mr. Cobden would have called " a craze " for railways, 
we had been seized with a passion somewhat akin to that which 
animated the breasts of those little boys who, on the opening of 
the new Westminster Bridge, ran a neck-and-neck race that they 
might achieve the distinction of being the first to cross, and we 
had resolved to be the first of that great army of the British 
public who would pass and repass upon this new railway 
between the Midlands and the metropolis. The authorities, 
with we suppose an amiable consideration for the eccentricities 
of literary men, gave the requisite consent ; and so we mounted 
the engine with a sense of satisfaction that by our very position 
on the train we should be the first unofiicials by the first train 
that ever went by the new route from Bedford to London. 


The superintendent of the company, Mr. Needham, and Mr. 
Vaughan, from the locomotive department, had joined us. The 
time was up. The driver's hand was on the lever, and the signal 
to start had just been given, when the stout lady the inevitable 
stout lady who generally appears on railway platforms at the 
last moment hove in sight. The fireman growled, the guard 
shouted, we were all delayed ; but eventually, perhaps somewhat 
hurriedly, the lady was stowed away somewhere nobody cared 
where and the train was off. 

We crossed the sluggish Ouse near the great engineering 
establishment of Messrs. Howard ; went by a bridge over the 
London and North Western line from Bletchley to Bedford ; 


saw on our left the historic village of Elstow, the birthplace of 
" the immortal tinker " ; and were soon on the long straight 
bank that leads to Ampthill tunnel and station. At Ampthill 
all the little world of curiosity or of idleness has gathered to 
be spectators of our triumph. The driver looks at his watch ; 
the fireman at the time-table ; and it is announced that 
though we left Bedford two minutes late (it was the stout 
lady who detained us), we are now in time. " Ah," says the 
driver with a knowing smile, " I'd sooner pick up one minute 
than drop two." The passengers are in ; Mr. Needham reports 
progress ; and again we start. Soon we are running on the 


summit of another long embankment, from which we can see 
the line far before us, and the country far around us. Occasion- 
ally a group of platelayers part to the right and left for us to 
pass ; the village girls pause upon the country road, and shade 
their bright faces from the sun as they gaze upon the first train 
that has ever run that way ; the old farmer rests his arms upon 
the top of his homestead gate, and thinks perhaps how things 
have changed since he " wur a boy " ; the larks fly off with long 
and quivering wing ; and now and then a partridge^ rises and 
whirrs away. A short cutting, and we are at the pretty village 


of Harlington. " Very good time," remarks our friend of the 
loco, department ; " three minutes to spare." 

We have scarcely left Harlington when right and left we see 
the long line of breezy chalk hills which tell us we are ap- 
proaching "the backbone of England." The Great Northern 
crosses it at Hitchen, the North Western at Tring ; but there is 
a dip in the range before us, and we seem, as we run round a hill 
artificially scarped and terraced, called Wanlud's Bank, as if we 
should slip between them. But though the engineers have 
doubtless done their best, they have had to make two deep 


cuttings in the chalk, a lesser and a larger, to let us through ; 
and at the southern end of the latter we see the signals and 
buildings of Leagrave. We now cross the ancient Icknield 
Way, which Roman soldiers built, and which Roman feet have 
trodden. We see on the right the Great Northern branch from 
Dunstable and Luton to Hatfield, and in a few minutes we 
descry the suburban villas that climb the hills that rise around 
the thriving town of Luton. Here a large number of people 
have come to bid us welcome, and to hail our departure. 

We are just starting, when some one rushes up to the engine- 
driver and exclaims : "There goes the Great Northern train, and 


they say they'll be in London first." We looked, and certainly 
the Great Northern train was in full cry. Our driver smiled as 
he turned on the steam, evidently not much affected by the 
challenge ; but our less responsible stoker pulls back the fiery 
jaws of the furnace, and on to the seething sea of flame he flings 
fresh coals with undissembled satisfaction. Not far from us for 
a considerable distance runs the single line of the Great 
Northern branch ; there we could observe its train hotly pur- 
suing its onward course, and then we lost sight of it, and at 
length reached St. Albans. 

We are descending a long incline of I in 176 ; and, though 
the steam is only half on, and the lever is sometimes at " SHUT," 
we go faster than before. At Radlett we pause, partly to take 
in water " Just a sup," says the driver, " to make sure," though 
there is plenty in the tender ; we meet the first down passenger 
train, and then Elstree station is before us. We enter Elstree 
tunnel, 1,060 yards in length, and soon after are under the green 
glass roof of the Mill Hill station. Here the fireman wiles away 
the momentary delay by opening wide the furnace door, 
inserting therein a long iron hoe, and raking to and fro the 
seething mass of white-hot coals and red eddying flames. He 
then moistens his arid clay from a tin can which he has kept 
warm upon a little shelf near the fire a vessel to which he and 
the driver have frequently repaired during the journey up, and 
the ownership of which seems to be held in a sort of joint stock 
coffee company (limited). 

Fifteen minutes more, and we are in Belsize tunnel, and over- 
head spreads the ancient demesne of Belsize. Haverstock Hill 
and Kentish Town stations come next, and at last we pause for 
a moment to change our engine for one that consumes most of 
its own smoke and steam, and is intended for special use on the 
Metropolitan. At Moorgate Street we say good-bye to our 
companions in travel. " If the historian of the future," we tell 
them, " asks you who opened the London and Bedford Railway, 
mind you tell them the truth. It was not you, gentlemen, you 
are only the officers of the Midland Company. We represent 
the great British public. We pay for everything. There are 
lots of the great British public in those carriages behind ; but 
we are first, and we opened the line from Bedford to London." 
And so, with cheery words, we parted. 


Paddington Terminus. " A Certain Field." Preamble of the Act. Station 
and Staff. Euston. St. Pan eras. Lost Luggage Office. Variety of 
Articles Lost. The Hat Shelf. Curiosities of Lost Luggage. The 
Departing Train. Passengers. Intermediate Stations. Woburn. 
A Lonely Station. The Station Master and the Keeper. York 
Station. Names of Stations. Station Notices. A Passing Train. 
Strange Movements of Engines. A Group on the Platform. Arrival 
of Train and Departure. Maintaining the British Constitution. 
Refreshment Rooms. Wolverton. Swindon. Rugby Junction. 
Good Digestion. Wagon Loading Gauge. Strange Visitors at 
Stations. Points. Crossings and Sidings. A Railway Siding. Toton 
Sidings. Ingenuity of Inventors. Home Signals. Distant Signals. 
Junction Signals. A Country Signal Box. A Station Signal Box. 
Interlocking Signals. Cannon Street Station. Cannon Street Inter- 
locking Signals. Cannon Street Signal Platform. Messrs. Saxby 
and Farmer's Instruments. Seeing Through a Brick Bridge. Block 
System. Block System on Metropolitan Line. Cost of Block 
Signal Machines. The Lamp Room. Fogmen. Fog Signalling. 
Fog Signals. Construction of Railway Signals. Railway Telegraphy. 

:; **?**-..__ ERE ou arg sir , is the somewhat self . 

contradictory declaration of the London 
cabman, who, at his stand, by a preter- 
natural quickness and accuracy of intuition, 
divines that we need his services. He 
snatches away the piece of sacking that 
is supposed to retain the caloric in the 
loins of his horse, goes through a series of evolutions in order 
to bring his cab alongside the kerb-stone, a process which could 
not be adequately described without the aid of diagrams, and 
which the uninitiated might consider was for the purpose of 
driving the horse in at the open door of the vehicle, instead of 
putting the passenger there. " Paddington terminus " is our 
only remark, and in a few minutes we are at our destination. 
Railway stations are of all sorts and sizes, from the little 



summer-house of one private station on the Brecon and Swan- 
sea line, to the stately proportions, vast (and yet, generally, 
insufficient) area, and enormously costly structures of the metro- 
politan termini. 

Paddington station is one of the earliest of these. Paddington 
itself is described by Mistress Priscilla Wakefield, in 1814, as 
" a village situated on the Edgeware Road, about a mile from 
London." In 1801, when the Grand Junction Canal was opened, 
and the first barge, full of passengers, arrived from Uxbridge 
at the Paddington basin, bells were rung, flags were hung, and 
cannon were fired. But Charles Knight mentions that even so 
recently as at that time "only one stage coach ran from the 
then suburban village of Paddington to the city, and it was 
never filled," and that, to beguile the travellers at the several 
resting places on their journey, " Miles's Boy " told tales and 
played on the fiddle. How great the change from all this, 
when, in 1853, William Robins, the historian of Paddington, 
wrote that " a city of palaces has sprung up in twenty years," 
and that " a road of iron with steeds of steam " was in use. 

For, meanwhile, important events had occurred. Among these 
an Act of Parliament had passed, the preamble of which is 
worth reading : " Whereas the making of a railway from Bristol, 
to join the London and Birmingham Railway near London, and 
also branches to Trowbridge and Bradford, in the county of 
Wilts, would be of great public advantage, not only by opening 
an additional certain and expeditious communication between 
the cities and towns aforesaid, but also by improving the exist- 
ing communication between the metropolis and the western 
districts of England, the south of Ireland and Wales, and 
whence, etc." * 

But the junction with the London and Birmingham Railway, 
which was proposed " in a certain field lying between the Pad- 
dington Canal and the turnpike-road leading from London to 
Harrow on the western side of the General Cemetery," was 
never made. The directors of the London and Birmingham 
did not see their way to unite in a joint station for the two 
lines, and so each Company took an independent course, 

* Act of Incorporation of Great Western Railway, 5 and 6 William IV., 
c. 14, section 107. 


and as one result the two termini at Paddington and at Euston 
were erected. 

The original cost of the Paddington passenger terminus was 
650,000 ; but for many years the accommodation provided 
was only " make shift." Not till 1854 was the present terminus 
built. The style is a mixture of Italian and Arabesque ; it 
stands in an area of seventy acres ; it has an extreme length of 
nearly 800 feet ; and it is spanned by three semi-elliptical roofs 
and three transepts. Between the end of the passenger station 
and the West London junction a distance of about a mile and 
a-half there are twelve miles of running lines and thirty-eight 
miles of sidings. A staff of more than 3,000 officers and men 
is stationed at Paddington, including the chiefs of the service. 
Nearly 300 trains pass in or out of the station every day, and 
about 1 1,000,000 of passengers use it every year. 

We might describe other metropolitan stations : that at Euston 
Square, with its Grecian propyleum and stately vestibule ; and 
the Midland at St. Pancras, with its gigantic roof of two and 
a half acres of glass, 240 feet across, rising 100 feet above the 
rail level ; a station in the construction of which 60,000,000 of 
bricks, 9,000 tons of iron, and 80,000 cubic feet of dressed stone 
were employed. There is the enlarged station of the London 
and South Western Company at Waterloo ; and the new 
Liverpool Street terminus of the Great Eastern, that covers 
ten acres of ground, and has an extreme length of 2,000 feet. 
There are also the stations at the provincial cities of the great 
railway companies, where enormous outlay has been incurred. 
At Manchester, for instance, the London and North Western 
Company has spent 2,000,000, at Liverpool probably 4,000,000, 
and at Birmingham 1,500,000, and yet further enlargement has 
become necessary. 

Among the various departments of a principal station, there is 
one which has special interest for the curious the Lost Luggage 
Office. "Gentlemen who will look out of the windows of railway 
carriages to see ' what's the matter/ and get their hats knocked 
off and left behind at the rate of fifty miles an hour ; young 
ladies who will have the windows open and allow their parasols 
to go ballooning down the line ; dandies who won't look after 
their own luggage, but leave it to ' those fellows, the porters, yov 
know,' and so lose it ; wives who will terminate their journeys 


at the terminus in their husbands' arms," regardless of the 
treasures and the trifles they brought with them ; commercial 
travellers who forget their samples ; in short, everybody who 
misses, or forgets, or leaves behind, or loses anything on a rail- 
way, has to have it taken care of for him in what may be called 
the " waif and stray " department of a railway company. 

The variety of articles thus left in the temporary or per- 
manent possession of the railway authorities is surprising. 
There is the satchel of a young lady a young lady, we pre- 
sume, of the period. She had been accustomed, it appears, to 
travel by herself to the south of France and Italy, and her 
friends sometimes wondered at her courage : the contents of 
her satchel, perhaps, explained the problem. They consisted 
of some biscuits, a bunch of keys, some Eau de Cologne, and a 
loaded revolver. Not long ago, chancing to wait in the clerks' 
offices of the general manager's department of a great railway 
company, we overheard a letter read that told the sorrows of 
a lady whose pork pie had, on a journey, been lost. Perhaps 
some sisterly hand had raised the crust to its perilous height, 
had filled it with the savoury contents, and had adorned the 
superstructure. She suffered keenly a double wrong: her larder 
had been robbed and her love had been wounded ; and her 
righteous indignation found adequate expression. What right 
had the railway company to lose her pie, and to rend the 
bonds of family affection ? No right at all. And though the 
general manager might have even more momentous affairs to 
determine, the errant pie was searched for and was brought 
back from its wanderings, and we hope ample compensation 
was made for its staleness, to say nothing of "consequential 

Other articles in the Lost Luggage Office tell a tale of the 
idiosyncrasies and eccentricities of their owners. A shawl, a 
handkerchief, or an umbrella may easily be left behind ; but 
how is it that one gentleman has forgotten a pair of leather 
hunting breeches, another his bootjack, one soldier- his kit, 
another his regimental coat, a Scotchman his bagpipes ? Had 
the owner of "a very superior astronomical telescope, in 
mahogany case complete " abandoned the study of the heavens ? 
How many children must have had a defective toilet when so 
many pinafores, frocks, bibs, and petticoats were left behind. 


Other toilets, too, seem to have suffered, since pairs of stockings, 
and odd ones, skirts and stays in abundance have been lost, and 
unasked for. What a strange conglomeration of other articles 
have at other times been unclaimed : " feather beds and casks of 
cement, galvanized iron coppers and childrens' chairs, registered 
stoves and oil paintings, spurs and crutches, spades and pomade, 
books and cradles, perambulators and trowsers, enough in their 
variety to furnish a house and to fill a shop." Some years ago, 
an announcement was made in the papers that at Swindon 
station " a pair of bright bay carriage horses, about sixteen 
hands high, with black switch tails and manes," had been left 
by some one of the name of Hibbert ; and that unless they 
were claimed and expenses paid on or before the I2th day of 
May following, the horses " would be sold to pay expenses." 
And when the day came they ^vere sold. 

" But for strangeness of variety," said Sir Francis Head, years 
ago, when he had visited a Lost Luggage Office, "commend 
me to the hat-shelf, for nothing can exceed the heterogenous 
jumble of rank, station, character, and indicative morality which 
that conglomeration suggests. Here a dissipated-looking four- 
and-nine leans its battered side against the prim shovel of 
a church dignitary ; there a highly polished Parisian upper- 
crust is smashed under the weight of a carter's slouch. On one 
side the torn brim of a broad straw strays into the open crown 
of a brand new beaver. Some bear the crushing marks of the 
wheels of a luggage train, or the impression of the moistened 
clay of an embankment ; others are neat, trimly brushed, and 
show how carefully they have been hung up in the first-class 
carriage, while the owner inducted his caput into an elegant 
templar, or fascinating foraging cap, and how he carelessly left 
it behind. Boys' and mens', quakers' and soldiers', carters' and 
lords', clergymen's and sporting men's, are all ranged side by 
side, or thrown together higgledy-piggledy, hurly-burly, topsy- 
turvy, in a confused conglomeration. There are first-class hats, 
consisting of sporting, clerical, military, and best beavers ; 
second-class, all neat and well-brushed ; and third-class, com- 
posed of carters', carpenters', valets', and haymakers'." 

Whatever may have been the observations of Sir Franeis 
Head, affairs have altered since his day. " Perhaps," as our 
attendant sceptically remarked, " the hats he saw were in his 


imagination. We've only very common-place things here," he 
remarked ; " umbrellas, sticks, wrappers, and such sort of things. 
Whatever is found in the carriages at Euston, and whatever the 
other stations can't find an owner for, they are all sent up here. 
Everything we have is entered in this register. This column 
tells the ' date when found,' the next ' where found,' * station 
no.' (which means the number of articles sent here from that 
station), * depot no.' (that is, the number of articles received in 
this depot, which is 5,376 this year. Last year we had 18,000). 
They're all common-place things," he said, passing his finger 
down the columns. " Here is a white cashmere muffler, a small 
roll of letters, specs in case, leather purse containing two postage 
stamps, 2d. t and a first-class ticket from Chester to Dublin, a 
string of beads used by Roman Catholics. Do we ever have 
anything strange?" he continued. "Once I had. I opened a 
square box sent from Preston, lifted up some straw, and found a 
dead child. When I touched it, it sent a cold thrill through me. 
It was naked a little child with golden curls. Yes, we sent to 
the coroner. The mother had poisoned it with laudanum ; 
mother was found out and convicted." 

But matters concerning lost luggage are not confined to 
a particular station, or even to a particular company. The 
lost article may have passed on to one, or even on to several 
" foreign " lines, may have to be searched for far and wide, and 
the assistance of the Clearing House may have to be invoked. 
The number of articles here reported upon as missing are about 
1 ,000 a day. "Statisticians," says a pleasant writer, "anxious 
to analyse the varieties of human blundering, will be interested 
to know that the most fertile cause of the miscarriage of lug- 
gage is that which brought Lady Audley to grief in Miss 
Braddon's famous story. It is the habit of leaving old labels 
on trunks and portmanteaus. Terrible mistakes are brought 
about by this practice, such as that which took a Cabinet 
Minister's luggage to Belfast, while he landed at Killarney. Mr. 
Childers recovered his property through the Clearing House, 
but it is often difficult to track a brown leather portmanteau, 
especially if it have neither conspicuous mark nor initials. Both 
of the latter, however, are made, for the moment, useless by an 
old label which misleads the porters at an important junction. 
Judicious travellers not only have their initials and some device 



in red or white painted on their trunks, but are very particular 
to tear or wash off old labels. Those who have not yet com- 
menced that sensible practice should begin at once." 

"I don't know how it is," recently remarked a London station- 
master, " but there is comparatively little luggage lost now-a- 
days, or if it is lost, it is usually soon recovered. I suppose that 
it is because passengers are more intelligent or more careful 
than they used to be." " Or, perhaps," we replied, " it is because 
railway companies take better care of luggage, and put it in 
vans or lockers for its special destination ; instead of, as 
formerly, piling it up on the roofs of carriages, covering it over 
with tarpaulin, and letting it take its chance of being sorted 
right." But whether it is to be put to the credit of the public 
or of the company, the reassuring fact remains. 

But let us now go down to the platform of the terminus, and 
see what always has some degree of interest a departing train. 
It is filling; let us glance at the passengers who are seated. The 
first-class carriage has a characteristic assortment of inmates. 
The middle seats are occupied by two stout gentlemen, one of 
whom is nearly hidden behind a copy of a morning paper he is 
reading. Their travelling companions are a young member of 
an old family in the north, a lady and her daughter. The 
second-class or third-class passengers are of a somewhat different 
genus. One, a commercial traveller, puts on a red cap while 
the train is alongside the platform, and will be nearly asleep 
before he is out of the yard, for he is an old stager, and econo- 
mises his strength. The young people here are more com- 
municative, and sometimes facetious. They will perhaps joke 
about the engine ; say that they prefer having their backs to the 
" horses" ; or talk about a " feed of coke " ; and when the engine 
whistles, will exclaim pathetically, " Poor creature ! " These 
puns, mild as they are, are laughed at by the good-tempered 
passengers as if they had never been heard before. Others of 
the travellers, having a turn of mind for the agreeably tragic, 
will talk about some dreadful railway accident, or tell of the 
disaster to the mail train which left York for London on the 
night of the 3 1st of February last, and has never since been 
heard of. These allusions, of course, produce a gratifying effect 
on the mind of the anxious lady, who is always to be found in 
one of the carnages of every train. She was recently in distress 



about her box, and afraid that if left for a moment unguarded 
on the platform, it might be pocketed by some one, though it 
weighs a good half-hundredweight; and now it is a source of 
solicitude to her because it cannot be put under the seat. 
Finally it is put in a remote van, where the lady would like to 
go too. 

The train is about to start. The "five minutes" bell has 
rung ; the last places are occupied ; friends prepare for their 
adieus ; and the last parcels are hastily deposited in the train. 
The guards take their places at the beginning and end of the 
train, and if it is a long one at the middle. The station- 
master sees that all the passengers are accommodated, and that 


the luggage is deposited, before he gives the signal to start. 
The engine-driver stands with his hand upon the "regulator/' 
and the fireman leans over and watches for the final order. 
The whistle shrieks ; the train is in motion ; and with increas- 
ing speed it rolls away, and is soon out of sight. 

Intermediate stations are of all sorts and sizes, and their 
accommodation and architectural pretensions also vary. Some- 
times they are handsome or heavy, sometimes neat or pretty, 



and sometimes the characteristics or materials of the neigh- 
bourhood have determined their structure and style. The 
Woburn station, on the Bletchley and Bedford line, was one 
of the earliest that might be called picturesque. 

" Yes, this station is lonely, as you say, very," remarked a 
station-master to us in a beautiful but solitary valley, in a moun- 
tain district. " It is sometimes difficult to get anything even 
to eat or drink. The farmers kill their own sheep and divide it 
among them, and I have sometimes to ask one of the guards to 


bring me something all the way from ; and I perhaps give 

them a rabbit in return for their trouble." " A rabbit ! " we 
exclaimed ; " how do you get rabbits ? " " Oh, we often get 
them, and game too," he replied. "The dook preserves the game 
on both sides of the line ; but it gets caught by passing trains, 
and birds fly against the telegraph wires and lame themselves. 
We sometimes find wounded or dead birds on the line." "And 
do the keepers consent to your having them ? " we asked. " Well, 
he returned, " I did have a little bother with one of them some 
time ago. I had been down to the distant signal, and found a 


hare on the line, and was carrying it home, when I saw the keeper 
over the hedge. ' You've no business with that there hare/ he 
shouted to me ; ' it 's the dook's.' ' Then/ I said, * if it 's the 
dook's, the dook had better come and fetch it/ He threatened 
me a bit, but he didn't come on to the line for it. I paid him 
out for his interference ; for a few days afterwards I saw him 
coming along the line out at the southern end of the tunnel. 
' You're on trespass/ I called. ' You can't corne this way/ And 
I made him go all the way back again, out at the other end of 
the long; tunnel. Since then we have been on better terms. I 


let him cross the line over a fence when he wants, and he lets 
me have what game I find without his interference. We live 
and let live, and we had need." 

Of intermediate stations, one of the latest and the handsomest 
is that of the North Eastern Company at York. It is near the 
city walls. Here, having completed the first portion of its jour- 
ney of 189 miles in three hours and fifty-five minutes, the 
" Scotchman " stops for half an hour to dine. 

The work of intermediate stations has characteristics of its 
own, and they are, by one at all interested in railways, worth 
noticing. It is pleasant to watch the different trains come sweep- 
ing up to the platform, or rushing through the station with a 
rrh-oar that makes the ground tremble beneath their iron tread. 

" First the shrill whistle, then the distant roar 
The ascending cloud of steam, the gleaming brass, 
The mighty moving arm ; and on amain 
The mass comes thundering like an avalanche o'er 
The quaking earth ; a thousand faces pass 
A moment, and are gone, like whirlwind sprites, 
Scarce seen ; so much the roaring speed benights 
All sense and recognition for a while ; 
A little space, a minute, and a mile. 
Then look again, how swift it journeys on ; 
Away, away, along the horizon 
Like drifted cloud, to its determined place ; 
Power, speed, and distance melting into space." 

Now come long luggage trains, pursuing their heavy way with a 
business-like stolidity of demeanour perfectly compatible with 
their great weight and respectability ; and then short dapper 
trains emerge from some out-of-the-way part of the estab- 
lishment, and take a spurt up or down the line, as if to try 


their wind and limbs. Occasionally a mysterious looking engine 
will make its appearance, squealing, hissing, and roaring now 
enveloping itself in a cloud of steam, and then rattling away as 
if ashamed of itself ; now advancing a few yards, as if pawing 
the ground and wanting to start somewhere in great haste ; 
now backing again under the curbing hand of the driver, who 
restrains its hot breath and life ; then, with a succession of 
curious puffs and pantings, running backwards down the course, 
or turning into a siding, evidently with something very distress- 
ing upon its mind ; and at last finishing its evolutions by splut- 
tering and dashing out of sight, as if in search of something 
which it had dropped on the road, or as if madly intent upon 

Some travellers are dropping in at this intermediate station, 
for a train is nearly due. They beguile the interval by strolling 
up and down the platform, perhaps pausing now and then to 
study an advertisement on the wall, possibly the map, as An- 
thony Trollope says, "of some new Eden some Eden in which 
an irregular pond and a church are surrounded by a multiplicity 
of regular villas and shrubs till the student feels that no con- 
siderations, even of health or economy, could induce him to 
live there." Glance round at that group of travellers. There 
is a country-woman, with a bandbox slung on her arm by an 
ancient looking silk handkerchief of gaudy colours. A porter 
is wheeling her luggage to the point where the break-van will 
stand when the train arrives ; and, seated on a hamper, is her 
grandson, a chubby-faced baby, who stares fixedly at everybody 
and everything, and who kicks his approbation of the scene, so 
far as the marvellous swaddling of shawls in which he is en- 
veloped will admit. There is also a stout, business looking, 
middle-aged gentleman, who has driven up with a well-bred 
horse. He is the squire of a neighbouring village, a rural poten- 
tate, who is going to a large town, where, instead of being 
regarded with reverence, he will be nobody. A few trades- 
people, a papa and his two boys whom he is taking to school, 
a governess going home for a holiday, and some farmers and 
cattle-jobbers, complete the picture. 

But the train is in sight. It has just passed the curve, and in 
the extreme distance a white line of cloud appears to rise from 
the ground, and gradually passes away into the atmosphere. 


Soon a light murmur falls upon the ear ; the murmur gradually 
becomes louder ; the cloud rises to a more fleecy whiteness, or, 
as it is tossed aside by the wind, reveals part of the train. 
The steam is shut off, and the train, with slackened speed, ap- 
proaches the platform. The doors are opened for those who 
are coming out or getting in ; the baby is handed to a kind- 
hearted gentleman, who proffers his services as an extempore 
nursemaid ; the seats are taken ; and very soon all is ready 
again for the start. 

Meanwhile, the engine has to take in a supply of water ; and 
accordingly the fireman mounts the tender, pulls round the 
funnel of the water-crane, and, directing it over the tender, turns 
on the water and obtains the necessary allowance. The engine- 
driver is also performing a series of gymnastic evolutions under 
and around the locomotive, using what looks like an oil teapot 
with a long spout, pouring the lubricating fluid into secret joints 
and out-of-the-way holes ; and then, mounting his engine in a 
free-and-easy style, he stands ready for his journey. 

While these processes are going on, one of the men passes 
along the line of carriages, in order to supply the axles of the 
wheels with the well-known yellow grease. This is composed 
of tallow, palm-oil, soda, and water the proportions of the 
combination varying with the season of the year. 

The train starts. The platforms are soon deserted, and in the 
contrast of the recent bustle with the present solitude we think 
of Campbell's " Last Man." From the station-yard " the arri- 
vals " are also disappearing. The old omnibus is just off. The 
little baker is briskly trudging along the turnpike ; the horse- 
dealer, who lives near the Blue Lion, is talking confidentially 
with a neighbour about a certain party who has been bidding 
for the bay mare ; and the large- bodied one-horse fly, with its 
corpulent rat-tailed steed, which trotted so briskly to the station 
for its master, who was expected but has not arrived, now lags 
homeward with the peculiar slowness of gait characteristic of a 
disappointed vehicle. 

Some of the names of railway stations are odd, but more so 
in America than in England. Stinking Wells is the cheerful 
title of a station upon a new railway in Nevada ; and, it is said, 
that the brakemen take pleasure in shouting it out " distinkly." 
And it is necessary to be distinct, especially in soirfe parts of 


the States. Anywhere, and especially in those wide latitudes, 
a mistake in a name may lead to inconvenience. Thus, we are 
told, " An old lady was going from Brookfield to Stamford, and 
took a seat in the train for the first and last time in her life. 
During the ride the train was thrown down an embankment 
Crawling from beneath the debris unhurt, she spied a man sitting 
down, but with his legs held down by some heavy timber. ' Is 
this Stamford ? ' she anxiously inquired. * No, madam/ was the 
reply, ' this is a catastrophe.' ' Oh ! ' she cried, ' then I hadn't 
oughter got off here.' " 

The walls of stations are often occupied by official instruc- 
tions for travellers, but sometimes they are more useful than 
interesting. Railway companies are required to set forth the 
fares to and from all stations to which tickets may be taken. 
These are generally sufficiently explicit, but we have known 
them to be elevated so greatly that no one, unless he was very 
long sighted or eight feet high, could read them. The following 
notice errs in another respect. It is quoted from the North 
Wales Chronicle, in 1875, and is a copy of a notice put over 
a booking office at a station on a Welsh railway : " List of 
booking. You passengers must be careful. For have them 
level money for ticket and to apply at once for asking tickets 
when will booking window open. No tickets to have after 
departure of the train." 

At many intermediate stations, as well as termini, there is a 
department of great importance devoted to the proper mainte- 
nance of the British constitution. It has been said by those 
who have studied the noble character of John Bull, that the 
only certain way in which to keep him in perfectly good humour 
is to keep him quite full. This operation is delicately denomin- 
ated " taking refreshment ; " and our railway managers, having 
observed that nature thus abhors a vacuum, and that the 
doctrine of the plenum is, in England, generally accepted, have 
taken care to promote the good temper of their travellers by the 
establishment of those most characteristic railway institutions 
" refreshment rooms." 

In the earlier days of railway enterprise, when it was con- 
sidered to be a serious matter to undertake a journey as far as 
from London to Birmingham, the refreshment room at Wolverton 
achieved renown. Who, then, had not talked about Wolver- 


ton's hot coffee, with the five minutes allowed for its consump- 
tion, and the various contrivances necessary for drinking it 
within the time ? Who had not laughed at the way in which, 
when he asked for milk with which to cool the scalding beverage, 
the amiable attendant remorselessly filled up his cup with boiling 
milk? Who had not heard of the visit of Sir Francis Head, 
who described the row of youthful handmaidens, who stood 
behind bright silver urns, silver coffee-pots, silver teapots, piles 
of sandwiches, heaps of buns and pies and cakes ; and who, 
though they had only seven right hands, with but very little 
fingers at the end of each, managed, with such slender assistance, 
in the short space of a few minutes, to extend those hands and 
withdraw them so often, sometimes to give a cup of tea, some- 
times to receive half a crown, then to give an old gentleman 
a plate of soup, then to drop another lump of sugar into his 
nephew's coffee cup, and then to receive change out of sixpence 
for four " ladies' fingers " ? The wonderful consumption at 
Wolverton of all things eatable and drinkable was also recorded, 
including 45,000 bottles of stout sometimes for extra stout 
consumers, 56,000 queen cakes, and 182,000 Banbury cakes, 
and 85 pigs and piglings who, having been tenderly treated 
from their infancy, " were impartially promoted, by seniority, 
one after another, into an indefinite number of pork pies." It 
has indeed been whispered that the lively narrative of the 
baronet was perused with special interest by the potentates of 
the London and North Western Company at Euston Square, 
and that the rent of the tenant at Wolverton was, at the earliest 
moment, considerably augmented. We have no doubt, however, 
that the rumour is a slander, and that personages so august as 
railway directors would be incapable of availing themselves of 
what can only be regarded as a literary indiscretion ! 

But perhaps one of the most remarkable facts anent such 
establishments is that the rent paid by the tenant of the Swindon 
refreshment rooms to the Great Western Railway Company 
is just one penny a year. The place was built by the original 
tenant when the company was short of money, and these were 
the terms agreed upon. All trains are required to stop here ten 
minutes. Fortune after fortune has been made by the suc- 
cessive owners. 

The writer of " Mugby Junction " was good enough *to inform 


us that it was to the extirpation of the tyranny under which 
the British traveller had groaned at the railway refreshment 
room that that publication was especially devoted. "The 
pork and veal pies, with their bumps of delusive promise, and 
their little cubes of gristle and bad fat ; the scalding infusion 
satirically called tea ; the stale bath buns, with their veneering of 
furniture polish ; the sawdusty sandwiches, so frequently and so 
energetically condemned," all these were as the outcome of 
the critic's irony effectually doomed. How the management of 
refreshment rooms came about in former days he also tells us. 
The last time, he says, we were behind the scenes at a railway 
refreshment bar, we were initiated into the story of the sorrows 
of the broken-down coachman of an esteemed friend. More 
than seventy years of age, rheumatic, and past work, interest 
was obtained with certain railway directors, and when, eventually, 
the post of purveyor of the station was charitably secured for 
" old Robert," there was sincere rejoicing. " None of us ever 
thought of his fitness for the post. Neither I nor my fellow 
townsmen thought of the railway station as a place at which 
eating and drinking was a possibility for ourselves, or of the 
ordinary travellers who passed through and lunched or dined 
there. But the kindly face and venerable figure of old Robert 
were local institutions; and if, by selling muddy beer, fiery 
sherry, and stale buns to strangers, his last days could be made 
easy, who would be churlish enough to cavil at his appointment." 
Yet charity to old Robert meant cruelty to the public, and the 
results were painful to many and unsatisfactory to all. So it 
must be confessed by all who are not endowed with digestive 
powers like those of a solicitor from St. Neots with whom we 
once travelled. During a pause of the train at Leicester station, 
he alighted, and brought back into the carriage a " hunch " of 
pork pie, and a small flask of sherry. " Can you digest that ? " 
sceptically inquired a fellow traveller. " Digest it ! " was the 
reply. " Do you think, sir, that I allow my stomach to dictate 
to me what I think proper to put into it ? " 

Among the minor appurtenances of a railway station is the 
wagon loading gauge. It is employed to prevent trucks being 
loaded so high as to touch the arch of a bridge or of a tunnel 
under which it may have to run. It consists simply of a frame, 
with a bell attached to it : if the loaded wagon passes freely 


underneath without touching the bell, it will run safely under 
any arch or through any tunnel on the line. 

Other visitors besides travellers sometimes visit railway 
stations. Not long ago a wagon of coals had been standing in 
the station at Kirkby Moorside, and in the wagon a wagtail 
had built her nest, in which again a cuckoo laid an egg. The 
wagtail brought off her strange brood, and the cuckoo a fine 
bird came into the possession of one of the company's officials. 
The fact that a wagon of coals would remain at the station long 
enough for a bird to build and hatch therein showed the dulness 
of trade in the district. 


We may here mention that a writer in a German engineering 
journal contrasts the behaviour of different animals towards rail- 
ways and steam machinery. The ox stands composedly on the 
rails without having any idea of the danger that threatens him ; 
dogs run among the wheels of a departing train without suffering 
any injury ; and birds seem to have a peculiar delight in the 
steam engine. Larks will build their nests and rear their young 
under the switches of a railway over which heavy trains are con- 
stantly rolling, and swallows make their homes in engine houses. 
A fox-terrier named Pincher, at Hawkesbury station, on the 
Coventry and Nuneaton Railway, for a long time distinguished 
himself by ringing the bell on the approach of stopping trains, 
much to the passengers' amusement. One day, after performing 
this feat, he ran from the signal-box on to the line, and was cut 
to pieces. 




At all stations, intermediate or terminal, ample arrangements 
have to be made so that trains, whether passenger or goods, 

may stand, or run, 
or cross over. The 
old way in which 
crossing was effected 
was homely enough, 
and such " points " 
were used as are 
indicated in the 
engraving. These 
have long since 
been superseded by 
" points " proper, of excellent construction, temper, and efficiency; 
and crossings and sidings are now sometimes multiplied into 
extraordinary number and intricacy. The first principle to be 
observed is to have, on the main lines, no " facing points," except 
at junctions. If a train has to be moved from a 
down to an up line, it must not be done directly. 
Let a be the down, and b the up rails. If it i? 
necessary for an engine or for carriages to be 
removed from the one set of rails to the other, 
it must be done by the following means : The 
engine must be brought along the down rails till 
it has passed the points at e ; the points must 
then be altered, and the engine being reversed, 
it will pass by the crossing on to the up rails 
b, the wheels passing the points provided 
for this purpose. This process has only to be 
reversed, in order to take an engine from the 
up to the down line. Only in the case of 
branch lines diverging directly from a main 
line it is necessary to have what are called " facing points," like 
that at g, which run to and past d. There should also be others 
provided about f. But at all facing points accidents are possible, 
and they can be averted only by special signalling arrange- 

In the neighbourhood of goods' stations the sidings are 
frequently extensive ; at some places, where the whole work is 
the sorting and remarshalling of goods or mineral trains, it is not 






too much to say that the whole station is sidings. On the 
Midland Railway, for instance, Chaddesden sidings, near Derby, 
and Toton sidings, near Trent, are wholly devoted to these 
uses, and there are similar establishments on other lines. Let 
us visit one of these sidings. 

The traveller who, on a wintry or foggy night, flashes along in 
an express train through the railway sidings at Toton on the 
Erewash Valley line may well regard the scene as one of be- 
wildering confusion. As he sees the clouds of fire-lit steam 
the glancing lights, the white, green, and red signals, the moving 
forms of engines, trains, and men ; and as he overhears, per- 
chance, the bumpings of trucks, the shouts of men, and the 
squeal of whistles from locomotives and from shunters, he may 
well consider it a spot from which he ought to be thankful to 
be quickly and safely extricated. Happily, cosmos reigns amidst 
this seeming chaos ; and the multifarious and apparently be- 
wildering transactions are carried on with order, precision, and 

" Yours are the model railway sidings ! " we playfully re- 
marked to the administrator of this little province of the 
Midland Railway Company's widespread dominions. " Well," 
he replied, "they do say we manage pretty well. We had a 
gentleman here from a great southern railway company for a 
week, who made drawings of everything. We have had an 
engineer from the United States, another from Russia, several 
others from various parts of the world ; and it is certain that we 
get safely through a deal of business. Yes," he continued, " the 
place has developed wonderfully ; twenty years ago it was nearly 
all fields. There was just the up and down passenger line, one 
siding, and a weighing machine, over which a mineral train could 
be passed, and the wagons could one by one he weighed, so that 
we might check the ' declarations ' of weight handed in by the 
colliery people. As the mineral business increased, fresh sidings 
were added, and a night as well as a day staff of men was 

The characteristic excellence of these sidings is that safety is 
secured for the main line traffic by keeping all the business of 
the reception, sorting, and marshalling of the empty coal trains 
and trucks on one side (for these are coal sidings), and the recep- 
tion, sorting, and marshalling of the loaded trains and trucks on 


the other side. " We never," said the superintendent, " ' foul ' 
the main line. An empty train arrives from the south by the 
down goods line. The train is broken up and deposited into 
one or all of five ' reception ' lines, two of which are for wagons 
going to collieries on the Erewash Valley district ; the third is for 
wagons belonging to the collieries between Masborough and 
Normanton ; the fourth for wagons for collieries between Clay 
Cross and Masborough ; and the fifth for those on the South 
Yorkshire system. The wagons put into the Erewash reception 
line are drawn by a shunting engine out at the opposite end from 
that at which they were put in, and after being ' chalked ' with 
the number of the line to which the horsemen are now to take 
them, they are drawn to the sorting sidings, of which there are 
seventeen, according to the particular collieries for which the 
trucks are destined. They are then marshalled in what is called 
' station order.' The guard of the train will have only to unhook 
the trucks at the particular station, to give them a * kick ' back 
into the siding, and then to resume his journey." 

We now go over and see the working of the loaded trucks and 
trains on the other side of the line. These arrive on the " up " 
goods line entirely clear of the passenger. In fact they left 
the passenger line at Ilkeston junction, 4^ miles north of Toton 
sidings. They run on the up goods line to Toton, and are 
delivered on to one of nine " reception," or, as they are called, 
"bank" lines. "Why we call them 'bank' lines," said the 
superintendent, " I can't say. It is a common name for such 
sidings at Chaddesden and elsewhere, as well as here. These 
' bank ' sidings are the source from whence we draw the traffic 
with which to make up our trains ; so, perhaps, that is the reason 
for the name." When the engine has brought its loaded train so 
far, it is detached, it picks up its break, crosses the main line (the 
only time it touches the main line at Toton) on to the down 
goods line, then goes with a load of empties back to the place 
from which it has brought its loaded train, or to some other 
point to fetch another train of coal. Meanwhile the full train 
it left at the bank is composed of wagons for three or more 
different destinations, some for the Midland, others for the Great 
Eastern, Great Northern, Great Western, and South Western. 
A " chalker " met the train as it came slowly in, read the " des- 
tination label " on each wagon, and chalked upon the truck the 


particular shunting line to which it should go ; a shunting 
engine, guided by a signal from the foreman at the centre of the 
sidings, now pushes the train forwards, and then horses draw the 
wagons into their various sorting sidings. Of these there are 
sixteen, and they hold in all something like seven hundred 
wagons, each siding containing wagons intended for a separate 

At night the same work is carried on by a duplicate staff. 
The whole place is lit up with gas. The amount of business 
done at Toton day and night is enormous, but it varies with the 
season. In a summer month 18,000 wagons will be received and 
despatched ; in winter as many as six and twenty thousand. 
The staff required also depends on the season and the work. In 
summer perhaps thirty or forty shunting horses would suffice, 
but in a severe winter the grease in the axle box will freeze 
hard, the wheels instead of turning round will skid along the 
rails, and two or three horses will be required to move a wagon. 

" Your horses here," we remarked, " have to be as intelligent 
as men seem to be in some places." " Yes," replied the superin- 
tendent, " it is very interesting to see their sagacity, and to watch 
them picking their way among the moving wagons, especially at 
night. After being suddenly unhooked from a wagon they will 
be perfectly still where there is only just room for them to stand 
between two lines of rails, while a squealing engine and a shunt 
of wagons passes perhaps on each side of them." 

" But how," we inquire, " with such a fluctuating traffic and 
amid such a multitude of trains arriving from all sorts of col- 
lieries, do you manage to get them away in so orderly and rapid 
a manner ? " " Well, the traffic comes in here from all the 
collieries on the Midland lying between Stanton Gate and as far 
north as Normanton in Yorkshire. It comes at stated times, 
but in constantly varying quantities. We cannot tell how much 
we shall receive on any one day from any one colliery. But in 
order to ensure its prompt despatch we arrange, on * spec/ for 
a proper supply of engine power, being guided, however, by long 
experience. When we have not a loaded wagon in the sidings, 
we order perhaps ten or a dozen engines several hours ahead to 
be ready at certain times ; and, meanwhile, the wagons they are 
to take accumulate. We never send an engine away south 
without a full train. Our busiest time is between four o'clock 


and nine in the evening ; and, in winter, until midnight. At the 
sorting sidings at the south end six or seven engines may be 
seen at a time attached to, or waiting to be attached to, six or 
seven loaded trains ; and these, when ready, will be following one 
another out and away. In an hour five or six loaded trains will 
thus go, perhaps thirty in five hours. We have sorted and sent 
away north and south one hundred and twenty trains in a day." 

" But how," we ask, " do you manage all this intricate work 
in foggy weather ? " " We have for our sidings," he replied, 
a system of our own. Instead of shouting, we whistle. Thus : 
when we want a driver to push his train back, a long whistle is 
given by the man at the tail of the train ; the second man, at 
about the middle of the train, repeats the whistle ; and the third 
man, who is generally in sight of the driver, again repeats it, and 
also gives a hand signal. If the driver is wanted to stop his 
train, the first man who stands in sight of the shunting signal 
gives three short sharp whistles ; the next man repeats them ; 
and the third man repeats them, and gives the hand signal to 
the driver. Usually all this is done by shouting ; we do it by 

"You said just now that you did your business here with de- 
spatch and safety. It used to be said you had a great many 
accidents. Sir Beckett Denison, in one of his kind speeches, 
called Toton sidings the Midland Company's ' slaughter house ' 
didn't he ? " " Yes, I believe he did," was the reply ; " but it 
isn't correct. The safety of the shunting here has been increased 
by the men using a long pole of iron or wood for uncoupling the 
wagons instead of getting between them. We have not had a 
fatal accident for a considerable time, not a man even seriously 
injured in shunting for two or three years." " How long are the 
sidings?" we inquired. "From south to north a distance of 
about two miles. Where they are thickest it is for about a mile 
and a quarter." 

Perhaps our reader, when he passes by day or night through 
Toton sidings, or some similar spot on some other company's 
lines, may cherish some thankfulness for the pains that are 
taken to ensure his safety and comfort. 

Having thus dealt with the subject of stations and sidings, 
we may refer to the signalling arrangements necessary for their 


In doing so we may make the somewhat paradoxical asser- 
tion, that one of the greatest hindrances to improvement in the 
mechanical details of railways, is the preternatural and abnormal 
genius of English inventors. Every few weeks or days some 
correspondent writes to a railway manager or engineer, to assure 
him in the strictest confidence, and with the utmost prolixity, 
that the writer has made an astounding discovery, or has devised 
some wonderful apparatus, which is certain to revolutionize that 
particular department of the railway world. Two inventions were 
recently recommended for the adoption of the Midland Railway 
Company. One inventor stated that the worst injuries received 
by passengers in collisions were caused by the hardness of the 
wood and iron of which the carriages were built ; and he accord- 
ingly urged that for the future carriages should be built of leather 
or other soft and elastic materials, so that passengers should 
be only squeezed and not cut. Another proposed to guarantee 
against one train ever running into another. To do this he 
wished a pair of rails to be fixed at and up the end of every 
train, so that if a train overtook it, it would run up and on to, 
but never into, the preceding one. Each inventor sent most 
elaborate drawings and estimates of the proposed project. Our 
railway authorities are ever and anon bored with a multitude of 
schemes from crack-brained theorists on the high road to the 
lunatic asylum, and eagerly supported by hungry patentees, 
until we sometimes fancy that the dreams of railway people must 
be haunted with ludicrous nightmares of railway mechanism in 
chaotic confusion and conflict, electric and hydraulic machines 
of every sort and size engaged in murderous internecine battle. 
And then, at last, when all faith in inventors has fled, some day 
somebody shows that he has really made a valuable discovery ; 
and eventually, after months of inquiry, experiments, and im- 
provements, it is adopted. 

There is no subject in which railway managers feel so deep 
an interest as the safety of their trains. Enormous sums of 
money are devoted to this end, and one result has been that the 
signalling arrangements that were at one time deemed sufficient, 
have long since been superseded by methods ingenious, elabo- 
rate, and costly, to some of which we have now to refer. 

The very simplest kind of railway signalling of which we 
have heard was mentioned to us the other day by one who is 




now an inspector of permanent way on the Midland Railway. 
" Forty years ago," he said, " I was on duty at Whitwood 
Junction on the North-Eastern, between Castleford and Nor- 
manton now a great junction and signalling station ; but all 


my signalling apparatus by day consisted of a board which I 
had to turn to let either the Leeds or the Normanton train go 
by ; and, at night, I had simply a bonfire of coals burning, 
which v by the light it gave, told the driver of an approaching 


train whereabout on the line he was. It wasn't really a signal 
at all, but simply a fire. There was no back signal of any 

For several years the only signal on the Stockton and Hartle- 
pool was a candle placed in a window of the station, its presence 
indicating to the driver that he was to stop, and its absence 
that he might go on. On the Stockton and Darlington and the 
Newcastle and Carlisle lines there were no signals, and there 
were none on the Liverpool and Manchester Railway when it 
was opened. "It was not until the year 1834 that the first 
attempt towards establishing signals was made on the Liverpool 
and Manchester, in the simple expedient of fixing an ordinary 
lamp to the top of a post approachable by a ladder. The signal 
showing a red or white light, was for night use only. Four 
years later, in 1838, Sir John Hawkshaw devoted his attention 
to signalling, designing some new disc signals, and through his 
influence they were introduced on several lines." 

Similarly elsewhere. "I was firing," a Midland locomotive 
superintendent at Rugby remarked, "in '41 on the Liverpool 
and Manchester line. The only signal used at the stations 
was a flag that was run up and down a mast by a rope through 
a pulley. When the wind happened to blow in the right 
direction, we saw it well ; but frequently it hung straight down 
the pole, and we had to get very near before we could see 
it at all. This was the only signal they had. There was no 
distant signal." Arrangements so elementary as these could 
not suffice, and, in the earliest days of railways, coloured objects 
were used a white signal, whether by flag, board, or light, sig- 
nifying safety, green meant that " caution " should be exercised, 
while red was the sign of " danger." A station signal was pro- 
vided for both the up and the down line, one at each end of the 
station, and of the kind represented in the engraving. On a 
train stopping, or travelling slowly through an intermediate 
station, the signal which was painted red on one side was shown 
for five minutes in the direction from which the train had come, 
so as to stop any following train ; the green signal, on the 
shorter post, was then turned on for five minutes, to complete 
the ten minutes' precautionary signal. Exception was made 
on the Liverpool and Manchester line, where the. red signal 
was shown for three minutes, and the green for five ; and also 

2 7 6 


when an express train or a special engine had passed, the green 
signal only was shown for five minutes. As the lamps and the 
boards were connected together, the lamp had only to be lighted 
at night or in a fog, and then the arrangement was complete. 
When the vane was presented edgewise to the driver of an 
approaching train, as seen in the engraving, it showed that all 
was right. 

Besides these there were auxiliary signals at most of the 
principal stations, worked by means of wires, which permitted 
their being regulated at almost any distance from the signal 
box. These auxiliaries were especially valuable in thick 
weather ; for, as they were placed several hundred yards 
from the station, the drivers of engines could obey them 
when it would be impossible to see the station signals with 

distinctness. They were con- 
structed with only the green 
or "caution," and the "all 
right " signals : the former in- 
timating that the red signal 
was turned on at the station. 
In the engraving of the home 
signal, the reader may observe 
the lever by which the auxiliary 
signal was worked. 

Where junction lines unite, 
or lines cross one another at 
the same level, a more com- 
plete system of signalling had 
to be adopted. A junction or 
double-signal station had two 
masts, near the tops of which 
were arms and lamps. When 
the arm, which is painted red, 
and is always on the left of the 
engine-driver, is at right angles 
to the mast, it signifies danger 

Jf ^ ^ ^ ^ anle Qf 


five degrees, caution must be observed ; and if the arm be par- 
allel with the post, it is all right. 

These arrangements still in part exist, but they have been 



enormously and scientifically developed. In former times a 
station-master, or porter, put signals at safety or danger, as the 
case might be, while some one else worked the points. Or it 
might be that the pointsman ran from his point to the signal 
lever, or back again. Or it might be, and too often it was the 
case, that the signals were not properly worked at all ; " the 
pointsman, perhaps, was fully occupied in pulling the one lever, 
and could not get at the other ; or the signalman might vainly 



trust to the pointsman doing his duty and give the signal ot 
safety when danger was imminent. Points and signals might 
thus be, and too often were, in direct contradiction, and the 
driver, relying on the safety which the lowered arm or the 
white light falsely bespoke, rushed confidently on his headlong 
way, to wake if he ever woke at all amid the crash of 
shattered carriages and the shrieks and groans of the wounded 
and the dying." Now what with home and starting signals ; 


distance, or, as they are called, distant signals, sometimes at 
enormous distances ; speaking instruments ; repeating signals ; 
intermediate repeaters ; light indicators with which, in effect, 
the signalmen can see along curved cuttings, and through brick 
walls ; with fog signals 10,000 of which are exploded by a 
single Company in less than one foggy month and with an 
electric system which anticipates and follows the movements of 
every train in every part of its career, we have a completeness 
of control which surpasses anything originally contemplated. 

Signal-houses are of various sorts and sizes, but in some re- 
spects they are essentially different from what they used to be. 
Instead of the cottage formerly provided merely for the shelter 
of the signalman, and from which he went out to change his 
signal or to pull his lever, the levers and the machinery that 
works them are, like himself, under cover. Some signal-boxes 
stand on viaducts that look down upon the crowded suburbs 
of great towns ; some are in deep, dull cuttings ; from some we 
see far away over cultivated cornfields, pleasant hamlets, and 
woods ; while others are in cold, high mountain districts like 
the Ais-Gill box, on the Settle and Carlisle line of the Mid- 
land Company, 1,200 feet above the sea. We enter one by 
permission of the authorities. It is on a bank in a beautiful 
ravine in Derbyshire. The hills are covered with trees, in 
which the light spring green of the young wood contrasts with 
the deep umbrageous foliage of the pines. Ivy and ferns grow 
over or around the limestone rocks. Rooks settle on the 
ballast. Jackdaws whirl high overhead. The Wye brawls 
along the hollow, where one lonely fisherman is casting his 
line. Up and down the valley are signals, sidings, lines, junc- 
tions, and a tunnel mouth. The box itself is a picture of neat- 
ness. The floor is cleanly washed ; the signal flags are folded 
together in the corner ; the twelve levers are as bright as steel 
can be ; the various telegraph instruments are by turns silent 
and anon noisily doing their work ; the petroleum lamp can 
at any moment be lighted ; the Company's books, with their 
broad yellow leaves on which the signalman makes his entries 
of everything that happens, lie open on the desk; sundry 
notices and instructions hang upon the walls ; the row of twelve 
signal lamps for the semaphores are in their places ; and, even 
in that lonely spot, scarcely a minute passes without there being 


some work to be quickly and accurately done or some record to 
be entered. 

In important intermediate stations like that, for instance, at 
Nottingham, having several junctions and sidings, platforms 
and cross-over roads, all need special protection from signals. 
Here, in addition to the signal-boxes outside the station, there 
is a central or station signal-box that communicates with and 
controls the rest. A train is coming, we will say, from London. 
The driver has been allowed to pass the last station before 
reaching Nottingham, at Edwalton, and is approaching the 
distant signal of the Trent Bridge signal-box. We will suppose, 
however, that another train has been detained at the station 
platform to which the driver of the London train has usually 
come ; and the station signalman will not only have his signal 
against the train, but will have wired to the London Road 
signal-box : " Train in platform." Accordingly the London 
Road signalman will keep his distance signal " against " the 
train, allowing it, however, to come slowly on until it arrives 
at his Home Signal. On reaching it the signalman will 
wire to the station signal-box, " Train waiting " ; and there- 
upon the station signalman will allow the driver to approach at 
" caution." As he does so he will find, by the signals, to which 
platform he may come, and he will also know that as are 
the signals so are the points, and so is the road ; signals and 
points being in their action " locked " together. We may add 
that, within the station itself, the " cross-over roads " are also 
protected by signals called "discs," which act simultaneously 
with the respective points, showing whether these by-paths are 
clear or " foul," and that all are under the direct control of the 
station signal-box. 

A pleasant writer in the Daily News once cheerily described 
his experiences "in a signal-box." "I have been trying," he 
says, "to qualify myself for a signalman. One never knows 
what may happen ; as an old fellow said to me the other day, 
' A guinea a-week ain't to be picked up under every lamp-post,' 
and I know that signalmen rarely or never make less than that, 
and may attain to as much as thirty shillings. I have heard 
indeed of as much as thirty-four shillings falling to the lot of 
some lucky dogs, where the chances of distinction before a 
coroner's jury are exceptionally great ; but I have no personal 


knowledge of such cases, and for the present my ambition does 
not soar beyond a thirty-shilling box, and the annual bonus 
which most or all of the companies give for a ' clean book* 
throughout the year a book, that is to say, showing no fault- 
finding by superiors on account of errors or neglect." 

He accordingly visited several boxes. In one he felt pretty 
confident that a week's practice would enable him to do the 
work without necessitating his appearance before the coroner 
more frequently than about once a month. In another his 
heart went into his boots, more particularly when, after inspect- 
ing a formidable array of scientific instruments, he was invited 
to try his hand at a lever, and found he could only get the 
provoking thing over after a determined struggle, which left him 
in a state of collapse. " I have no doubt," he playfully adds, 
" that the rogues picked out Number Thirty-two because they 
knew it to be an exceptionally stiff one, and knew that it wanted 
oiling ; and I am pretty sure that they were as merry as old 
Father Christmas behind my back while the struggle was going 
on." He thus found that the work of signalling demanded 
very considerable muscular wear and tear ; and that in some of 
the boxes brain and body must be pretty much on the work 

He entered another box, where there were gongs and bells of 
various sorts and sizes which rarely were silent for many seconds 
together, and which kept the operator incessantly on the move 
answering their demands or heaving to and fro some of those 
thirty or forty levers apparently in the most promiscuous and 
haphazard fashion. " My guide, philosopher, and friend, who is 
steeped to the lips in signalling lore, and has at his tongue's end 
a language in which ' back-locking/ * slotters,' and ' replungers ' 
are important factors, dives at once into the midst of things, 
and I of course look as wise and acute as I know how. The 
fact that a man feels himself to be a fool is, I hold, no good 
reason why he should look one if he can help it ; and I assumed 
my most sapient aspect. I hope I impressed the signalman 
as I intended, but I do not much think I did. It took, I am 
afraid he thought, a deal of explanation to get a very simple 
idea into my head, but it began at length to dawn upon me that 
all this complication was more apparent than real, and that this 
intricate piece of mechanism, a large signal-box, was after all 


only the combination of several small ones of the simple 
character already described." 

In the modern interlocking of signals the principle aimed 
at is, so far as possible, to supersede the man by the machine, 
to make him merely the motive power of the machine, and to 
render the machine as nearly as possible automatic. If the 
safety of the trains were dependent on the signalman, and he 
were dependent on his memory or his discretion, the conduct of 
the traffic of some lines, where, for instance, fifty trains an hour 
pass the signal-boxes, would be impossible. "And when you 
have an accident here," the inquiry was put to a signalman, 
u how do you expect to be able to manage it ? " " Upon my 
word," he replied, " I don't know. I never in my life saw such 
mechanism until I came here ; and if I tried to run two trains 
into one another I couldn't do it." How completely the inter- 
locking is arranged may be inferred from the fact that, in some 
instances, in order to pass a train from one point of a station to 
another, some fourteen movements or more of levers are re- 
quired. " Supposing in some freak of folly I attempted to 
lower that distance signal for a second train before I had duly 
passed a first, and given ' Line clear ' to the man in the rear box 
I should find my lever locked fast, and the distance signal 
unaffected by my foolish attempt to lower it. It is in fact under 
the control of the man in the next box as well as myself, and 
we must both be of one mind before it can be ' taken off.' The 
mechanism of the thing was explained to me by an officer of 
the Company, who held up two fingers perpendicularly and put 
another horizontally across the top of them. That top one, he 
said, is the signal arm, and it is kept up by two bars underneath. 
One bar is connected with a lever in this box, and the other 
with a lever in that, and both must be moved before the signal 
arm will fall. It takes two careless or foolish men, therefore, to 
let one train run into another on either side of this station, one 
man being actually at the station, and the other at the next 
signal-box along the line." 

Besides the signal levers there are those that act upon the 
points, and it may be thought that a very little carelessness or 
want of skill would enable a pointsman to shunt one train with 
one lever, while he arranged his signals so as to let another train 
smash into it. But here again the mechanism absolutely pro- 





hibits such conduct. It is not only 
that the book of instructions forbids 
it, but the levers refuse to be parties 
to it. The points and the signals 
are interlocked in such a manner, 
that until the signal arms all stand 
at danger, and therefore forbid any 
train to approach, the lever which 
works the points is a fixture which 
cannot be moved. Trains may run 
away, signal gear may be out of 
order, engine-drivers may not see 
the warning or may disregard it, or 
breaks may refuse to act ; but the 
signal-box is, as nearly as human 
skill can make it, practically infal- 

The most remarkable illustration 
of the interlocking system is sup- 
plied at the Cannon Street terminus 
in London. Here the difficulties to 
be dealt with, in the highest degree 
complicated, have been overcome by 
the skill of Messrs. Saxby & Farmer. 
Four main lines and one engine 
line, with five pairs of rails, cross 
towards the station from the bridge 
over the Thames, bringing with them 
trains that have converged from the 
stations at London Bridge and 
Charing Cross. Between and among 
the five pairs of straight lines several 
curved crossing lines meander, touch- 
ing one pair of rails, cutting across 
another pair, and effecting junctions 
each with all, so that trains can run 
from any one line to any other. 
The five principal lines, as they 
approach the station, spread out, 
eight going to the eight platforms ; 


and the ninth is for the accommodation of locomotives. The 
operations which the points and signals have to conduct may be 
understood from the fact that at the most crowded time of the 
day eighteen trains arrive and eighteen depart within the hour , 
and for every arrival and departure there are required two 
movements of locomotives; and that 108 operations of shifting 
points and signals have to be performed every hour, or, on the 
average, one in every thirty-three seconds. 

How, we may inquire, is all this done ? And we will answer 
the question with the aid of an excellent description from The 

About fifty yards in front of the Cannon Street station, a 
platform spans all the lines, high enough to clear the chimneys 
of the locomotives. " On this platform stands a glass house 
surmounted by four tall poles, from either side of which pro- 
ject semaphore arms to the number of twenty-four. These arms 
generally remain in their horizontal attitude to signify danger, 
and are only occasionally lowered, and that but for a few seconds, 
to signify that the passage is clear. They command the lines 
and sidings on the bridge and in the station, and every driver of 
a locomotive arriving, departing, or changing line, has to keep 
his eye steadily upon some of them, stopping without fail when 
their warning blocks his way, and moving without fear when 
they promise safety." He easily distinguishes which of the 
signals belong to the line he occupies. If, then, the engine- 
driver does his duty, and if the signals properly point it out, no 
accident can happen. 

Climb by an iron ladder to the signal platform, and enter the 
glass house. It is about 50 feet long and a few wide. Half the 
width is occupied by a row of strong iron levers standing nearly 
upright from the floor, and placed at equal distances along the 
apartment ; the rest of the width forms a gangway from end to 
end in which two stalwart men can work, whose time is entirely 
occupied in looking through the glass sides of their cell, and in 
pulling this way or pushing that way some of the levers which 
are arranged before them. These levers work all the 32 point 
and 35 signal levers ; 67 in all. Every lever is numbered, and 
on the floor beside it there is fixed a brass plate engraved with 
its name and use. All the point levers are black, the up signals 
are red, the down signals blue, and the distant signals yellow. 



Many of them, too, have numbers, sometimes half a dozen or 
more, painted on their sides, and these numbers involve the 
whole secret of the safety which is secured by the mechanism, 
as will be readily understood if we examine the principles on 
which it is devised. 

The keys and pedals of an organ, as is well-known, command 
numerous valves admitting air from a wind-chest to the pipes 
which it is desired to sound. " The key-boards are sometimes 
double or triple, and are occasionally arranged so that the 
performer sits with his back to the instrument. The pipes are 


generally spread over a large space, and sets of them are some- 
times enclosed in separate chambers. There thus arises con- 
siderable complexity in the mechanism by which the several 
keys are made to operate on their respective air valves. Never- 
theless, by means of rods, cranks, and levers, such a connection 
is effected, that on depressing a C key, not one C pipe only, but 
it may be twenty C pipes are made to sound, in whatever part 
of the instrument those pipes may be situated. And so it is 
with the points and signal levers of the Cannon Street platform. 
The whole row may be considered to form a key-board of five 


and a-half octaves, every key of which is connected by suitable 
cranks and rods to some one of the sixty-seven points and 
semaphores which have to be played upon. In the organ a 
touch of the finger serves to depress a key, for the movement 
has only to admit a puff of air to certain pipes but here the 
keys require a strong and steady pull, for they have to move 
ponderous point bars, or broad semaphore arms, and their 
movements have to be conveyed round many corners and over 
considerable distances. In both cases the mode of communicat- 
ing motion is the same, the two mechanisms differing only in 
size and strength ; and thus far the organ and the signal instru- 
ment exactly correspond." 

We may now compare the working of a complicated system of 
signals with that of an organ. But there is one essential dif- 
ference : an organist can touch any keys he pleases, and can, if 
he should be so minded, produce not only concord but discord. 
"Not so the signalist. Discord is utterly beyond his powers. 
He cannot open the points to one line and at the same time give 
a safety signal to a line which crosses it. When he gives a clear 
signal for a main line, he cannot open a point crossing to it ; 
when he gives a clear signal for a crossing, he must show danger 
for all the lines which it crosses. And this is the meaning of 
the numbers marked on the different levers. No. 10, let us 
suppose, has 5, 7, and 23 marked on its side. He may pull at 
No. 10 as long as he pleases, but he cannot move it till Nos. 5, 
7, and 23 have first been moved and so throughout the whole 
system. No signal lever can be moved to safety unless the 
point levers corresponding with it have first been moved, and 
no point lever can be moved while there stands at safety any 
signal lever that ought to stand at danger. Every lever is 
under lock and key, each being a part of the key which unlocks 
some of the others, and each forming a part of the lock which 
secures some of the others against possible movement, while 
each is at the same time subject to the control of all those which 
are related to it." 

This result, complex and difficult as it seems, is achieved by 
mechanism of great simplicity and beauty. Immediately under 
the floor of the platform, and just in front of the levers, are 
arranged several series of vibrating and sliding bars somewhat 
like the tumblers of a lock placed horizontally. 'These bars 



have projections here which stand in front of certain levers as 
obstacles to their motion, or notches there which permit certain 
levers to travel. " Some of them have sloping faces such that, 
when a lever moves along them, it edges them to one side, and 
this transverse motion being communicated to others of the 
series brings the proper projections or notches in front of those 
other levers to which the moving lever is related. Thus, by the 
movement of one lever, some others are stopped and some are 
left free, and this simple principle carefully applied to all, works 
them into a system incapable of discord." 


The locking apparatus of points and signals is not excepted 
from the general law of degradation. But since the normal 
position of all the signals indicates danger, if, through slackness 
or wear, the lever which works a signal should become partly 
inoperative, the worst that can happen is to leave the signal at 
danger. So throughout the whole mechanism let cranks or 
slides wear, rods stretch or break, delay may ensue, but danger 

Let us now explain the system which guides the signalists in 
their operations. At each end of the glass house a lad is seated, 


with note-book and pencil, in front of an electric telegraph. 
"The apparatus on the right rings a bell, the lad looks at 
its index and immediately exclaims, * North-Kent/ * Charing 
Cross,' or whatever else the needle may direct him to say. An 
observer looking along the bridge perceives the steam cloud of 
a locomotive advancing, and presently catches the bright sheen 
of its steam chest as it sweeps with a train round the curve on 
the Surrey side. Before he can turn round the signalmen have 
drawn some three, four, or it may be half a dozen levers, the 
proper junctions have been effected, and the due signals are set : 
the train glides safely into its allotted platform. And not one 
train only, for several trains may be coming up their several 
lines, and others may be simultaneously sweeping out from the 
station. The telegraph passes the word from afar, the lad who 
watches it repeats the word aloud, and the men calmly, quietly, 
yet rapidly turn it into the practical work of guiding the train 
to its destination." 

Our readers will agree with us that the inventors of such 
agencies, so economical to the Companies, and so safe to the 
public, are entitled to the gratitude of mankind. 

We have already referred to the ordinary signals of a station 
the " home," and the " distance " or " distant " signals with 
arms by day, and lamps at night. But suppose that a bridge or 
a tunnel happens to be so situated at the end of a station, that 
the signalman who uses the signal cannot see whether it acts 
properly ; and suppose that, though it has worked with perfect 
accuracy for years, some tempestuous night the oil or the wick 
of the lamp is defective, or a stone breaks the glass, and the 
light goes out ; may not a train, unwarned of danger, come 
careering onwards through the gloom and the storm to destruc- 
tion ? The contingency may be remote, but it is possible ; and 
the results if they followed would be disastrous. This subject 
engaged the anxious consideration of Mr. Needham, the Super- 
intendent of the Midland Railway, and he conferred with the 
Company's electrician about it. " Can't you make us an appa- 
ratus," he said, "by which we can see round a corner see 
whether a lamp is burning half a mile off and out of sight ? " 
The electrician set his wits to work, and at length was successful. 
Just over the place where the flame of the signal-lamp burns he 
placed a thin brass tube, which, as soon as heat is applied, ex- 


pands. This " expanding piece," as it is called, presses against 
the short end of a lever, the long end of which is so arranged as 
to press against a " stop " made of some conducting material, 
and so placed that the electric circuit is complete. The electric 
current immediately passes to the signal-house, and indicates 
that the lamp is burning. No sooner is the lamp extinguished 
than the " expanding piece " begins to contract, the contact is 
broken between it and the stop, the circuit is interrupted, and 
the signal current ceases to flow. " There," said Mr. Needham, 
as we stood in one of these signal-houses, at the west end of 
the Derby Station, " the lamp is just lit, and in thirty seconds 
the brass tube will expand, the current will flow, and on that 
little box on the shelf you will see the words move up, ' Lamp 
in.' " We stood, watch in hand ; and it was so. Subsequently 
the lamp was by order extinguished ; and in thirty seconds 
more the words " Lamp in " disappeared, the words " Lamp 
out " leaped up in their place, and the loud ring of. an alarum 
bell proclaimed the fact. That sound and those words would 
arouse the attention of the signalman in the stormiest winter 
night, would tell him that his signal-lamp had gone out, and 
would warn him immediately to adopt other means for stopping 
any approaching train, and averting any threatened disaster. 
Many such signals are in use. 

The reader has doubtless heard of the block system ; we may 
state precisely the way in which it is worked on, for instance, 
the Midland Railway. At certain distances, determined by 
the amount of traffic, signal-boxes are erected, each of which 
is supplied with telegraph instruments communicating with the 
next signal-station up and the next that is down the line. For 
simplicity, however, we will now deal with only one, the down 
line ; and we will call the stations to which we have to refer A, 
B, and C. In front of the signalman is the dial of his telegraphic 
instrument, which also is supplied with a clear-sounding bell, 
and it is by the aid of both bell signals and dial signals that the 
work is done. When the instrument is not in use, the handle 
which works the needle hangs down below the instrument, and 
is in an upright position. It is also ordered that each beat of the 
bell must be made slowly and distinctly ; and that under no cir- 
cumstances can a signal be considered to be understood " until 
it has been correctly repeated back to the station from which it 



was received, and the acknowledgment given that such repetition 
is correct." If the reader will now glance over the list of " bell 
signals " and " dial signals " given below, he will see how ample 
are the resources placed at the disposal of the signalmen for ful- 
filling the duties that follow. 


To call attention 

Be ready for passenger train 

Be ready for goods, cattle, mineral, or ballast train, or 
light engine 

Train on line 

Shunt train for passenger train to pass 

Signal given in error, train last signalled not coming . 

Stop and examine train 

Shunt train for goods or mineral train to pass . 

Testing signal 

Withdraw, ' Be ready,' and ' Train approaching ' sig- 
nals last sent ........ 

Train divided 

Train or vehicles running away on wrong line . 

Time signal 

Train or vehicles running away on right line . 

Lampman required 

Fog-signalman required 

Opening of signal post 

Closing of signal post 


Signal correctly repeated .... 

Passenger train approaching .... 

Express goods or cattle train approaching 

Through goods or mineral train approaching . 

Stopping goods, mineral, or ballast train, or 
light engine approaching .... 

Testing signal 

Signal incorrectly repeated .... 

Fast passenger train on line .... 

Slow passenger train on line .... 

Express goods or cattle train on line 

Through goods or mineral train on line . 

Stopping goods, mineral, or ballast train, or 
light engine on line 

Train passed without tail lamp 

Stop train and instruct driver to come for- 
ward cautiously 

Testing signal 

Line clear of train or engine .... 


beat of the 





















































i beat of needle to 

3 beats 

4 ,, 

5 jj 




beat of needle to left, 




We will suppose that a passenger train is approaching the 
signal-station that we call A ; and thereupon, by one beat of the 
'bell, the signalman calls the attention of station B ; and then, 
'by two other beats, he tells B to " Be ready." The signalman 
at B, having ascertained that the line is clear for the approaching 
train to run on, repeats to A the signal he has received. Station 
A now indicates to B the kind of train viz., passenger train 
that is coming forward, by giving the three beats of the " Pas- 
senger train approaching " dial signal ; and when station B has 
duly acknowledged the same, and has received the required 
intimation from station A that his acknowledgment is correct, B 
must, by the insertion of a little peg into the right-hand hole on 
the dial, keep the needle to " Line clear." As soon as the train 
has passed station A, the signalman must give the bell signal 
" Train on line ; " upon hearing which, station B must acknow- 
ledge the signal and unpeg the needle. Station A must then 
give to station B the proper " Train on line " dial signal ; and 
(when station B has acknowledged, and received the necessary 
intimation from station A that his acknowledgment is correct) 
he must peg the needle over to " Line blocked," and then call 
the attention of, and give the signal " Be ready " to station C. 
So will it be through the series of block stations. Supplemen- 
tary instructions are given in the event of fogs or snowstorms 
or other contingencies. In the event of a second train arriving 
at a signal-station before the preceding train has been tele- 
graphed as clear from the station in advance, the train must be 
brought to a stand, and the driver must then draw the tail of 
his train within the signals, and await the signal being given. 
At night, when trains are ordinarily fewer and further between 
it is not necessary to keep all these signal-houses in service. A 
" switch," as it is called, is then put on, for instance, at B, so 
that the electric current flows direct from A to C, and then the 
signalling is carried on as if the B station did not exist. The 
safety of the line is equally secured, but the blocks are longer, 
and of course a smaller number of trains can run. 

By means of the bell other signals also are given, as, for 
instance : " Shunt goods train for passenger train to pass ; " 
" Shunt slow goods train for fast goods train to pass ; " " Shunt 
slow passenger train for fast passenger train to pass." In the 
event of a signalman observing anything the matter with a train 


as it passes his box, he signals to the next station to " Stop 
and examine train ; " thereupon the signalman puts his signals 
against the train as it approaches, and the train is pulled up for 

The advantages of the block system are great, and none are 
more conscious of this than the drivers themselves. They run 
with a sense of security, and the traveller may pass over long 
distances without hearing the whistle, except at the junctions. 
Arrangements are also in progress by which even this may be 
obviated, messages being sent forward to the junction both as to 
the kind of train that is coming and the line on which it will 
have to travel, so that the signals and the points will be ready 
before it arrives. 

This system perhaps reaches its most remarkable development 
on the Metropolitan line. " Suppose," we said to the engineer, 
" London goes on increasing, and more people want to travel by 
your line, how will you carry them ? Trains as near together as 
every three minutes were recently considered to be your maxi- 
mum ? " " We have already," was the reply, " shifted the block 
stations and signalled our line for a two minutes' service, and we 
can begin at any time to carry this into effect when they make 
more room at Aldgate to receive and to re-start the trains. There, 
at present, at one point, the trains have to cross one another's 
path ; but as soon as the circle is completed this difficulty will 
disappear. Aldgate will then be a roadside instead of a termi- 
nal station ; the trains will pass through one after another, and 
a minute's interval will be ample." " It is the improvements in 
the brakes the use of continuous brakes, also," we suggested, 
" that aid you in this multiplication of trains." " Yes," said the 
engineer ;* " we can now, if we like, pull up our trains, when run- 
ning at a speed of 25 miles an hour, in their own length 120 
yards. But we are not often in such a hurry as that ; for we 
don't allow a train to start till the next length of line is clear. 
We work the absolute block, and there are never two. trains on 
one section." 

Thus does the telegraph supplement the railway ; and, antici- 
pating and following the course of the innumerable trains that 
pass up and down the line, acts like a nervous system, sensi- 
tively responding to what may be called the potent energies anc 1 
activities of the muscular system of the railway itself. 


The expense of these signalling arrangements is great. Every 
lever in a blocking machine costs 8, besides the expense of 
adapting the signals to it, and in addition to the necessity fre- 
quently arising of purchasing additional land at the points 
where the machines have been brought into action. In the 
locking machine at Charing Cross there are as many as 100 
levers, so that the price paid for it on delivery was .800, be- 
sides the cost of fitting it up and putting it into action. The 
Midland Railway, alone, for some time expended not less than 
^60,000 a year on the block and interlocking systems. 

In close connection with the signalling arrangements of a 
railway is the lamp department. When we enter a lamp-room 
of a station we are ready to exclaim, " Can a clean thing come 
out of an unclean ? " but the problem is solved in the affirma- 
tive. Here, unless we accept Lord Palmerston's definition of 
dirt, that it is only " a good thing in the wrong place," every- 
thing is dirty, at any rate is oily. The lamps, cleaned and not 
cleaned, are oily ; the benches are oily, the floor is oily, the 
"waste" is oily, the men are oily; yet from all this come the 
clear lights of the bright lamps, and the comfort and safety 
of travellers. The lamp-room is a land of lamps. Rows of 
lamps hang right across and along the roof ; there are upright 
rows or racks of lamps at the side and ends ; there are lamp- 
barrows on the floor ; there are lamps in the adjoining rooms, 
lamps in hundreds in all. 

At the lamp-benches the lamp-cleaners are at work. The 
lamp is half sunk into a hole in the bench, so that it can be 
easily held and rubbed and scrubbed. " One man," says the 
foreman, "can clean thirty lamp-glasses in an hour, but he 
couldn't do this for long. Another does the burners ; he also 
fills the ' cistern ' of the lamp. Each has a pint, and it will burn 
for twenty-four hours if the wick is properly trimmed." 

A lamp -barrow stands ready with its perhaps forty lamps ; a 
train is nearly due that will have to be " lamped " ; so the 
barrow is wheeled off along the platform. " Is it safe," we in- 
quire, "to throw the lamps on and off the carriage roofs, as 
those men are doing ? " " It is the safest way of all," is the 
reply. " We very seldom have any accident in throwing them. 
If a man when just going to catch a lamp were to see that the 
glass was broken, he perhaps would let it drop. It might cut 


his hands all in pieces if he didn't. They weigh fifteen to eigh- 
teen pounds apiece, so their force is great. Sometimes the glass 
gets cracked ; and then, if the valve, by any chance, should feed 
the flame too freely, the surplus will collect in the glass, and 
by the oscillation of the train may leak through the crack and 
drop on the floor." 

" The greatest stations for lamping business," remarks the 
foreman, " are where the most trains start from. Some start 
from here. Through trains that arrive in an evening when it is 
getting dark we also have to lamp ; and when an express stops 
we have to see that every lamp in every carriage is burning 
brightly. If it isn't, it might go out before the train reached 
the next station at which it stopped, perhaps sixty or seventy 
miles away ; so we shift it. When the Lefroy job was on, we 
had orders to lamp some trains by day that go through some 
short tunnels trains we had never lamped before and we have 
lamped them ever since. It costs a lot of money, I expect, to 
do it. The tank overhead will hold 750 gallons of rape oil, 
and a gauge affixed shows at a glance how full it is. Though 
the days are long now," adds the foreman, " every lamp in the 
service will be in use next week with the excursions; they come 
home late." 

" Semaphore signals are cleaned by a man on purpose for the 
job. They burn petroleum. He cleans his lamps at the 
signals ; for the junctions lie wide apart. He has to go over a 
deal of ground four or five miles, I should say to do them. 
At roadside stations the lamps are all brought into the station 
to be cleaned." 

"Yes," said the superintendent of the lamp department at 
Derby, " we have lately made great improvements in our lamps. 
Each roof-lamp now has its own cover ; and so well is every 
part adjusted, that I can take this lamp and swing it when it is 
burning " (and he suited the action to the word) " over my head 
without disturbing the oil or the light." By the substitution of 
petroleum oil for rape oil in many of their lamps the Midland 
Company alone have recently effected a saving of ; 10,000 a 

We may add that the lamps that light our trains have, like 
everything else in railway matters, undergone great changes. 
" On the Bolton and Kenyon Junction line, one of the earliest 


that carried passengers," an engineer remarked to us, " the 
lamp in front of the engine used to be a coal-fire. A sort of 
crane, with a hook at the end of it, stuck out from the buffer- 
plank, and from the hook hung a fire-grate, about a foot in 
diameter, filled with burning coal, the same sort as we used 
for the engine. The draught created by the engine as it ran 
forward, and as it oscillated from side to side, kept the fire 
bright, and the ashes dropped on the road. We could see the 
line well before us. I have ridden on such an engine many a 

Before leaving the subject of signalling, we may refer to an 
important class of services rendered in connection with this 
department. " Bang, bang, bang," noisily went the knocker on 
the door of a cottage in a quiet street one night last winter. It 
was pitch dark ; and though the lamp-post stood at the corner 
of the street, it gave but the faintest glimmer to the gloom. 
" Bang, bang, bang," again the knocker sounded, and it effected 
its purpose, for the bedroom window was opened for a minute, 
and a gruff voice cheerily said, "All right." If we ask what it 
was that disturbed the deep slumbers of the tired platelayer, the 
answer would be given in the one short, simple word, " Fog." 
In that cottage lives a "fogman," and he was wanted for his 
duties, A quarter of a mile away is the signal-house of the 
" North Junction " ; a quarter of an hour ago the signalman 
there observed that the mists had suddenly and heavily settled, 
and that help must be obtained. Accordingly, along his 
" speaking telegraph " a special wire with which, in addition 
to his ordinary signalling wires, he is furnished he flashed to 
the " Platform Inspector " on night duty at the station the 
expressive order, " Send fog-signalmen." On the wall of the 
station-master's office hangs a list headed : " Arrangement of 
fog-signalmen, and their respective addresses and posts of 
duty," and also the names and addresses of the two "gangers" 
of the said fog-signalmen. A porter is immediately despatched 
to one of the " gangers," who will at once proceed to summon 
the men under his command, each of whom knows the exact 
spot where his duty lies, and thither he will hie himself. 

Our fogman is not long in coming -to his senses. He 
buttons up the overcoat with which he is specially supplied by 
the company for this service ; and, though the night is so dark 


and the fog so dense that he cannot see his hand a foot from 
his nose, he knows the way he has to go, and soon " reports 
himself" at the signal-box at the North Junction. The signal- 
man looks him over with a glance to see that he is in all respects 
fit for his work, and he then " signs on duty," is supplied with 
a lamp and a couple of dozen fog-signals, and goes to his accus- 
tomed post the distance-signal of the up line half a mile away, 
as duly recorded on the card in the station-master's office. 
Meanwhile the other fogmen have hastened to their respective 
stations ; in a short time every one will be at his place ; and, as 
soon as practicable, each will have kindled a fire which will give 
himself light and warmth. 

The duty now devolving upon the fog-signalman is this : He 
is to place himself as far beyond the distance-signal as he can, 
so as still to see it fifteen or twenty yards, perhaps nearer, if 
the fog is very thick ; as often and as long as the distance- 
signal stands at " danger," he is to keep two " fogs " on the rail ; 
and as soon as the distance-signal turns to white, meaning 
" clear," he is to take the two " fogs " off again. The advantage 
of standing beyond the signal is that there will be more time 
for the driver of the coming train, after he has heard the " fogs," 
to glance up at the signal itself, and to verify by his sight what 
his ear has already told him. 

From time to time during the night the men are visited by 
the foreman signalman, to see that they are vigilantly discharg- 
ing their responsible duties ; and also, at intervals of six hours, 
to take them refreshments. These consist of a pint of hot 
coffee for each man, and also a quartern loaf and half a pound 
of cheese between every four men. These provisions are sup- 
plied to the foreman by a woman, who is allowed tenpence a 
meal a man ; and as these fog-signalmen at their ordinary work 
have to work twelve hours for a day's work, but at signalling 
earn a day's wage in eight hours, it is a service they are willing 
enough to perform. As they are relieved by other men every 
twelve hours, " they would not mind," remarked an officer to us, 
" if the fog lasted for a month." The relief men are obtained 
from what are called the " extra gang " of the platelayers in the 
engineer's department of the neighbouring station. 

A fog-signal is somewhat of the shape of a large Uuck penny- 
piece. It is about two and a half inches in diameter, half an inch 


thick, and has two flexible pieces of lead across, which may be so 
bent as to clasp both sides of the rail. It 
contains three gun-caps and perhaps half an 
ounce of gunpowder. It is said that when a 
" fog " was first used for experimental pur- 
FOG-SIGNAL. poses, a driver reported that he had been shot 
at by a man who had, to take aim, laid himself down on the ballast. 
The Midland Company use a large number of these signals. 
Last winter but one, at Nottingham station alone, forty gross 
(they are ordered in grosses) were required. They were going 
night and day as long as the fogs lasted. Fogmen are, during 
fogs, stationed at many of the home signal-boxes also. If a 
fog comes on during the day, the men do not wait to be sum- 
moned, but proceed at once to their respective stations. 

We may conclude this chapter with a brief reference to the 
telegraphic arrangements of a railway company arrangements 
familiar yet wonderful. Some idea may be formed of the extent 
and multitude of these operations when we mention that on, for 
instance, the Midland Railway, for the private use of that Com- 
pany, there are no fewer than 8,000 miles of telegraph wire in 
almost constant employment ; there are more than 9,000 tele- 
graph instruments, employing 15,000 batteries most of them 
Daniell's. Including signal-boxes, there are 800 telegraphic 
stations. The mere "battery power" necessary for such a set of 
instruments has been emphatically affirmed to be " something 
enormous." The battery plates, if put end to end, would stretch 
twelve miles in length ; and their power would be sufficient to 
lift one of Her Majesty's 8i-ton guns a foot high in a second of 

The outdoor staff of the telegraph department sometimes 
includes as many as 400 men, who carry on the work of the con- 
struction and maintenance of the telegraphs. The indoor staff 
consists of nearly as many clerks, all under the charge of the 
telegraph superintendent. Candidates for employment under 
him are of the age of 14 or i6,.are first admitted to a prelimin- 
ary or educational examination, and afterwards to one that tests 
their competence in telegraphy. Having passed the latter, they 
receive a certificate to that effect, and are employed as vacancies 

The amount of service rendered in the telegraph department 


of a great railway company is enormous. The messages on 
" company's business " number on the Midland Railway alone 
some 5,000,000 annually, and they increase at the rate of per- 
haps 500,000 a year. Besides these there are the messages known 
as " train reports." When, for instance, a train leaves Norman- 
ton for the south, a " train report " to that effect is despatched 
to all the stations within a certain distance ahead, say as far as 
Sheffield. It is in such brief form as the following : " Number 
84 left at 2.5 ; " and as the train passes in succession the other 
stations further south, similar "train reports" are forwarded, so 
that it is known for perhaps half an hour ahead " how she is 
running." The various signalmen are thus enabled to keep 
the line clear for the coming passenger trains. These " train 
reports" on the Midland line alone are not fewer than the 
amazing number of 10,000,000 a year. 

The greatest enemies of telegraphic communication are 
thunderstorms, hurricanes of wind, and snowstorms. In 
thunderstorms the electric fluid has been known to flash along 
the telegraph wires, and to fling the telegraphic instrument 
across the office at the heads of clerks yards away. In frosty 
weather rain that falls upon the wires will become frozen 
thereon, till sometimes around it is a solid mass of pure ice, as 
clear as glass, in the midst of which the wire looks like " a fly in 
amber." At such times the force of the wind pressing on so 
broad a surface is irresistible ; the wires and posts go, or the 
wires are torn in rags that dangle at the posts. In the latter end 
of 1872 the telegraphic system was thus interrupted over large 
districts of the country. In March, 1881, the Settle and Carlisle 
section of the Midland line was visited by a succession of snow- 
storms of which we shall have to speak hereafter which at 
length seriously interrupted the whole telegraphic system. The 
wires became a mass of ice, and after a night-storm of rain, 
snow, hail, and frost that followed as the weather broke, the 
wires went by the run. The rain, however, in a .few hours 
helped to clear the line ; before daylight on the following day 
a train with a gang of telegraph men got through ; by 10 o'clock 
defects were temporarily adjusted, and the traffic resumed its 
course. It is at such times when the railway communication is 
interrupted that the special value of the telegraph makes itself 
felt. The traffic becomes congested, and the pressure is only 


relieved by the strenuous efforts of those at headquarters, who 
by the telegraph can learn the facts of the case and can help to 
deal with them. Without the telegraph the difficulties attending 
the re-organization would be tenfold what they now often are. 
To show the eagerness with which the telegraph is used at such 
times, we may mention that after the snowstorm of January, 
1881, which affected the whole of the Midland lines south of 
Leeds, the number of telegraph messages passing through 
the Derby office alone rose in one week from 13,782 to nearly 

The construction and maintenance of the signals of a great 
railway company form an interesting department of service. 
That of the Midland Company at Derby had a small beginning 
at first perhaps a dozen carpenters, fitters, and smiths ; but 
gradually the work expanded till the Midland system had to 
be arranged for signalling purposes into some twenty districts, 
over each of which is an inspector, with 15 to 25 assistants ; and 
there are now some 800 men in this department 500 at Derby 
and 300 outside. 

The loftiest signals made by the Company are 65 feet high, six 
feet of which are fixed below ground, and are strutted with cross 
timbers ; if necessary, they are also stayed with wires from the 
top. The wood of which these semaphores are constructed is 
resinous Memel pine, a single tree of the right size being selected, 
and then squared and tapered, so as to be about 14 inches 
square at the bottom and 8 inches at the top. The usual height 
of a signal, however, is 45 or 50 feet, and hundreds of this size 
are used for one of the maximum height. Piles of signal-posts, 
with all the subordinate but necessary appliances, are always in 
readiness, so that, in case of need, they can, in a few hours, be 
despatched to any destination. Some 1,200 or 1,300 signals are 
sent out from Derby in the course of a year, consuming in 
their preparation and appliances some 900 tons of iron, and 
perhaps 15,000 cubic feet of timber. 

Much of the apparatus of signals is made of wood ; and every- 
thing connected, not only with signals proper, but with their 
manifold appliances, and with the cabins for the signalmen, are 
provided from the signal department at Derby. Wooden 
planks, grooved and tongued for flooring, and also though 
somewhat lighter for the roofing of signal-boxes ; flights of 



steps, with step plates ; window sashes and windows ; " benches " 
on which the " point rollers " and " angles " are fixed ; " crosses " 
for strutting the semaphores below ground ; lockers and locks 
one for each box of each signalman who works in that cabin ; 
fans; indicator boards for single lines; facing points; "brackets" 
upon which two signals are erected on one post when there is 
insufficient room on the ground for two posts ; weights to hold 
the signals to " danger " when they are " pulled off" by the 
signalman, all are made here ; and, in addition, there are in 
readiness, "in stores," lamps, gongs, and a hundred other 
matters required in this department. 

Passing the painting shops we come to the- smiths' shops, where 
the iron work is done. Here all kinds of machines, for planing, 
boring, drilling, slotting, and shaping, are busily and noisily at 
work. Groups of men are building locking frames in all stages 
of progress, and containing perhaps 40, 50, or even 60 levers. 
Other men are at the forges, and here have just been finished five 
or six hundred " road gauges " for the gangers to measure and 
maintain the precise gauge of the " road." Here are " angle 
pulleys" innumerable : they are required to shift the direction of 
the wires or rods that pull over the signals or points ; here are 
some new and handsome metal " staffs "for the use of drivers on 
single lines ; and near at hand are stores of galvanised wire 
"No. 8," nearly -^ of an inch in diameter, made by the firm of 
Richard Johnson, of Manchester, all for signalling purposes. 



Station Masters. Duties of Station Masters. Working Single Line Traffic. 
Exceptional Duties. Perplexities. Names of Station Masters. 
Booking Clerks. The Booking Office. Thomas Edmondson. Ticket- 
making Machines. The Dating Press. The Cash Counter. Train 
Books. Audit Office. The Clearing House. Experiences of Booking 
Clerks. Involuntary Travellers. The Parcels Office. All Sorts of 
Parcels. Work of Parcel Clerks. Signalmen. Duties of Signalmen. 
Guards. Duties of Guards. A Polite Guard. Porters. Complaints 
about Luggage. A Valise of Dynamite. Bag- 
gage Smashers and Bees. What is Personal 
Luggage ? " Checking the Baggage." 

HE station master of a railway company 
occupies a position of responsibility. He 
is, it has been said, not only respectable, 
but respected, knowing and known by 
every passenger who frequents the station 
from the humble labourer who comes up 
mud-bespattered to take the parliamentary 
train, to the head of the great county family 
who steps from his carnage and four into the first-class express. 
The station master is not only what his name indicates : he is 
much more. " He is the captain in command of all the human 
and steam forces that aggregate round that little world micro- 
cosm in the railway cosmos called a station, and within his 
own sphere holds the same place as the commander-in-chief 
the general manager does in the more exalted position. Of 
course the importance of the station master is as the importance 
of the station of which he has charge." The station master 
of Euston or St. Pancras holds a different position, and must be 
differently qualified, from the station master of Auchtermuchty ; 
still the duties of these officers differ less in nature than in ex- 

The initial letter is from a sketch of the Malvern Link station. 



tent. Many station masters, too, can count up a quarter of a 
century and more of railway service. 

The station master is answerable for the care of the com- 
pany's property ; for the faithful discharge of the duties of the 
staff whether permanently or temporarily employed within the 
limits of his station ; for the signalling and the safe working of 
the trains ; and for the security of all moneys received. On him 
primarily devolves the duty of starting the trains at the right 
time, and of seeing that there is a sufficient interval to make a 
collision between them impossible. It is within his discretion 
to start or to delay trains that may be out of time ; his decisions 
on these points may demand cool judgment and quick resolu- 
tion. For example, as a general rule, " passenger trains take 
precedence of all goods, cattle, and coal trains, the regulation 
being that the latter must not be started from any station when 
passenger trains are due. But this rule, like most others that 
guide the difficult and intricate work of the railway, is subject 
to modifications, according to the circumstances under which 
trains arrive, the state of the weather, the weight of the loads of 
goods trains, and the class of engine drawing them. Thus a 
light ' through ' goods or cattle train may be started from a sta- 
tion on a clear day or night before a slow, frequently-stopping 
passenger train. It may be done at the station master's discre- 
tion but at his responsibility. Again, it is the rule that no 
goods train is to leave a station if there is a passenger train 
to arrive, due before, but delayed on the road. But this rule, 
too, like many others, not only may be broken, but must be 
broken should the efficient working of the service require it. 
It may happen that, from facts which come to his knowledge, 
either by telegraph, signals, or otherwise, the station master has 
reason to think that a passenger train which is due may not 
come for some time ; and he is then justified promptly to de- 
spatch the goods train, but taking care to inform the driver of 
the coming passenger train of the existence of the goods train 
in front and its next shunting place." Innumerable, indeed, are 
the circumstances under which a station master has to act with 
quick judgment, sound discretion, and courtesy, and the various 
qualities required for the due discharge of all these functions are 
by no means common. 

Such services can be discharged only by the effective co-oper- 


ation of an adequate staff. At a station like Nottingham, for 
instance, there are some twenty clerks, twenty guards, thirty por- 
ters, forty-five signalmen, a dozen men and boys in connection 
with the parcel office, besides lamp-men, carriage-cleaners, ticket- 
examiners, shunters, fish-porters, and others, about 170 in all, 
upon each of whom devolves duties which require constant 
attention, practical experience, and good conduct. 

Station masters usually consist of two classes, arranged ac- 
cording to the importance of the stations. To speak more 
precisely, there are two ranks of station masters : the first-class 
station master, and another another being a rank widely com- 
prehensive. The appointment of all the staff is made from the 
superintendent's office ; but the local station master may intro- 
duce and commend the applicant, and he is frequently officially 
invited to do so. If the station master has any fault to find 
with a member of his staff, he reports it with particulars to the 
superintendent ; and, if the offence should be of sufficient gra- 
vity, the delinquent may be suspended by the station master, 
pending the matter being dealt with at headquarters. 

Station masters are appointed from those who have had ex- 
perience in, and who show aptitude for, the duties of the office. 
As a rule, they come from the superintendent's departments, 
but sometimes from the goods'. A knowledge of only the goods' 
would not give the requisite qualifications : there must be a 
thorough familiarity with - signalling, and with the working 
of trains. Sometimes a man begins as a porter, is then a 
porter-guard, and through his practical efficiency wins promotion 
to the office of a station master at a small station. But ordin- 
arily they have begun as booking clerks, have gradually learned 
the working of all the details of the station, and have thus 
become qualified for the higher position. 

The salary of station masters is progressive. A second-class 
officer begins with perhaps ^"95 ; it will be increased next year 
to 120, and will rise for a few years at the rate of 20 a year. 
Some of the great companies make 120 or 130 the minimum 
for a first-class station master ; the boundary line signifying 
also whether they are entitled to a first or second-class pass 
in travelling. The salary may steadily rise to a maximum of 
about 350. If a house is also provided, rent is charged ; but 
20 is the maximum rent demanded. Sometimes a company 


has to buy house property near its station in order to avoid 
paying " compensation " to a former owner : such houses may 
be eligible for the residence of their servants. 

One of the most critical duties of station masters is that of 
working through the traffic of a great main line on a single line. 
An accident has occurred, blocking one road, and until it is 
cleared, a safe passage for both up and down trains must be 
provided. Not long ago we had the opportunity of learning 
how these are performed. We were one night travelling by 
express from King's Cross, when, by the slower speed of the 
train, and by its stopping at various stations unauthorized by 
the time-table, we inferred that something was amiss ; and, at 
length, at a roadside station we ascertained that a serious acci- 
dent had occurred, that several persons had been injured, that 
the down line was blocked, and that it would be at least mid- 
night before we could get through. After a long time we were 
allowed cautiously and slowly to start. We went a few miles 
along the down line, and then, once more, were stopped. It 
was f as dark as pitch; and, save the blowing off of the steam 
of the engine, and a low conversation between the guard, the 
engine-driver, and a man who emerged with his lamp from the 
gloom, we could see and hear nothing. At length we could 
catch the long whistle, and then the roar of an approaching up 
train. Louder and louder it came ; and with a flash and a 
scream, it passed us, and was gone. A few minutes more, and 
another up train came by with a crash ; and yet a third, and 
a fourth; and once more we were left to ourselves. "Now," 
said a signalman to our engine-driver, "back by the cross- 
over on to the up rails, run down to Welwyn crossing, back 
again on to the down line, and go ahead ! " Accordingly we 
.were slowly shunted on to the very rails on which, a few minutes 
before, those up trains had been running with such terrible 
speed. Then our engine was reversed, and away we ran ; we 
passed the workmen who, by torch and firelight, were clearing 
the down line, where precious blood had so recently been spilt, 
and precious limbs had so recently been shattered ; and we 
were thankful when, after a pause, we crossed over by what was 
to us a facing point to our own down rails, and eventually 
reached in safety our destination. 

It is, however, of interest to know that all the arrangements 


necessary for the working of single line traffic, day or night, 
can be carried out with precision and safety. The Great 
Northern Company, for instance, requires that, under such 
circumstances, "the following rule shall be rigidly put in 
force." A pilot or goods or coal engine must be obtained ; 
and "written orders" must be "given at both ends of the 
single line by the chief officer on the spot, that no engine or 
train be allowed to go on it without the pilot engine is at the 
end from which the train is about to start ; the district agent 
will then proceed to pass the traffic on one line, accompanying 
the pilot engine backwards and forwards." If a pilot cannot be 
procured, " one man, whose name must be given to the person " 
in charge of the arrangements at each end, " must be appointed, 
in writing, to act as pilot man, and he must ride on every train 
or engine in both directions, and this one man must continue 
riding to and fro between the aforesaid places until relieved." 

The financial responsibility of a station master may be con- 
siderable. At a first-class country station he may receive from 
fares and from the district collector as much as 10,000 in cash 
at a time, and may have to pay 1,000 in wages on the same 
day. But the 1,000 will not be taken out of the 10,000 : the 
wages will be received in full, and the money received will be 
sent away in full. 

Upon some station masters, not strictly official exceptional 
duties devolve. It is so, for instance, with the station master at 
Hawes junction, on the Settle and Carlisle line, who renders 
valuable services to the Meteorological Society and to the 
public. On the western slope of the embankment, a little to the 
north of the station, are placed water-gauges, barometers, and 
various other appliances, the data of which, collected at various 
hours, are daily transmitted to London. The following is an 
exact copy of the message sent on the day we happened to 

86032 04235 85532 02431 29000 

37270 Slight showers snow during night. Very cold.* 

* In the first group of figures, the first three represent the reading of the 
barometer, the last two refer to the wind, and state that it is north. The 
second group mentions the force of the wind, weather, and temperature. In 
the other groups the readings of the barometer, the direction and force of the 


Station masters have their perplexities as well as other people; 
An illustration may be mentioned. A certain station master on 
a branch line in Leicestershire had given orders to the driver of 
a goods train to take away with him some empty trucks that 
stood in a siding. The driver demurred ; the station master 
insisted ; the driver flatly refused, and did so with gestures 
which as the sequel will show added, as the station master 
considered, insult to disobedience. Not long afterwards a pas- 
senger train arrived, in one of the carnages of which the chair- 
man of the company was seated a gentleman distinguished, 
among other qualities, by his extreme gravity of demeanour 
and sense of decorum. The station master at once mentioned 
his grievance. " And what did the driver say ? " inquired the 
chairman, after hearing sundry particulars of the dispute. " He 
said he wouldn't take the trucks, sir," returned the station 
master. " He positively refused, did he ? " exclaimed the chair- 
man. "Yes, sir, he did." "And what did he do then ?" con- 
tinued the chairman. " He started his engine, sir," added the 
station master, " and did like this, sir ; " and the station master, 
in too literal imitation of the example of the offending driver, 
put his thumb to his nose, and stretched out his fingers in a 
manner like that of certain rude little boys when they take 
what we believe is popularly designated " a sight." It so hap- 
pened that several persons from a little distance on the plat- 
form were watching this somewhat animated conversation of 
the station master with his august superior ; but though they 
could not hear what was said, they were surprised if not scan- 
dalized to observe that just as the train was moving away, the 
station master was plainly seen apparently most mutinously 
" taking a sight " at the chairman of the company of which he 
was a servant. 

A playful writer has made the following comments upon the 
names of sundry station masters engaged in the service of the 
Midland Railway. " On the Midland system," he said, " there 

wind at various hours of the day, the rainfall in the twenty-four hours, the 
temperature at the time, and the maximum and minimum temperature are 
given. If there is a dead calm, there is no " force " or " direction" of wind 
to tell, and cyphers are used. Notes are added with regard to^the appear- 
ance of the sky and the weather. 



are only ten station masters who can be represented under their 
true colours ; these are seven Browns, two Whites, and one 
Green. The naturalist will be surprised to learn that one Eagle, 
two Martins, two Foxes, and a Dolphin are employed by the 
company, and may be seen booking passengers and parcels to 
various parts of the country. The geologist would find Stone 
at Gargrave, Cliff at Elslack, Hill at Ben Rhydding, and Home 
at Armley. Botanists would have to go to Rothwell Haigh to 
find one solitary Fearn, and the florist would be delighted to 
find at Draycott a full-blown Rose each day, whilst a Marigold 
is perpetually blooming at Wolverhampton. Timber would 
appear to be scarce, as there is only one Poplar at Dronfield, 
one Ash at Bentham, and a solitary Twigg at Unstone. Fruits 
are anything but abundant, there being only one Cherry at 
Southwell, a Nutt at Barnt Green, and a good-sized Plumb 
at King's Norton ; though an Orchard exists at Sandiacre, and 
an Appleyard at King's Cross. It appears absurd to keep 
Clay at Sutton and Potters at Ketton and Loughton. There 
is a Furnace at Cromford, a Brook at Ashwell, whilst Bells are 
kept at Nottingham Road and Hampton. And, oh, how the 
mighty are fallen ! two Kings, one Baron, three Knights, a 
Marshal, a Herald, a Judge, and a Friar lustily call out the 
names of their respective stations to thousands who little dream 
of their former greatness. For all domestic purposes, four 
Cooks have been deemed sufficient ; but only one Carver 
(though Moore could be had from Oakley if required). Trades- 
men would find Turners at Woodlesford and Bugsworth, Smiths 
at Stanton Gate and Settle, and a Skinner at Duffield, whilst a 
Master could be had from Apperley Bridge, if required. A Bar- 
ber is kept constantly at Pinxton, Taylors at Budworth, Kentish 
Town, and Helpstone, and ready-made Coates sufficient for two 
companies are always on hand at Barnsley. A Miller is kept 
at Fishponds, and a Gardiner at Bristol. Historians will be 
surprised to learn that the Welsh reside at Barrow, and the 
Scotts at Thorpe. To provide a dinner (unless you could put 
up with a Fry from Gloucester), Salmon would have to be had 
from Harpenden, Rice from Kitchen, and Porter from Radford, 
whilst Salt would have to be procured from Basford, and Pepper 
from Camp Hill. Entries could be had from Walsall or Berke- 
ley, Jelly being kept at both stations. The Stocks are at 



Kilnhurst, as a warning to evil-doers, and per contra at Raw- 
marsh an Organ has been sent for their use. The station master 
at Great Bridge is said to be Rich; at Belfast, Little; Kegworth, 
Cross ; Thurgaton, Kind ; Little Eaton and Haslour, Sharpe ; 
Hazlewood, Swift ; and Steeton, Wright. A full-rigged Ship 
has long been kept at Wisbeach, and a Brigstock may be seen 
unfinished at Kirby Muxloe. If only a Rivett is lost at Brough- 
ton, it may be found at Rolleston. The facilities for recreation 
are great. You may Read at Willington, Hunt at Wilnecote 
and Gloucester, Gamble at Water Orton, and admire the Rain- 
bow at Eckington, in a very few hours. English geography 
has been taken great liberties with, and we are asked to believe 
that Warwick is in Lincoln, Buckingham in Blackwell, Sunder- 
land in Crouch Hill, Bolton in Terrington, and Buxton in 
Hassop. We are also told that the East is at Stoke-on-Trent. 
Yorke is where he is wanted, and the garden of Eden can be 
seen at St. Albans. Two stations (which shall be nameless) are 
handed over to the mercy of two living Savages. Finally, to be 
grave, the Tombs are at Peak Forest, and the Saxton's house at 
Manningham ; and, though truth is sometimes stranger than 
fiction, it is notorious that only one Christian is to be found 
amongst the entire number of the company's servants ! " 

An important class of duties discharged at every station are 
those of the booking clerk. He has been playfully described 
as " the young gentleman of pleasing manners, who hands you 
your ticket through a pigeon-hole, and flings about sovereigns 
and silver as if coin came as natural to him as mud comes to a 
hippopotamus." In the early days 
of railways, passengers, on some lines, 
were required to give and to spell 
their names to the clerk, in order that 
they might be written on a large 
green paper ticket ; and, in other 
cases, metal tickets were used, on 
which was engraved the name of the 
station to which the traveller was 
going. Their size and shape are in- 

j. . . .. r A METAL TICKET. 

dicated in the engraving drawn from 

a ticket we have seen, formerly in use on the Leicester and 

Swannington Railway. When the passengers reached their 


destination, these tickets were collected by the guard, placed 
in a leather pouch, and taken back to Leicester to be used 
again. But improvements came, and came in an interesting 

A Quaker, in the year 1840, was walking in a field in North- 
umberland, and he had an idea. Though a man of integrity, he 
had in business been unsuccessful, and was now a railway clerk 
at a little station on the Newcastle and Carlisle line. When a 
passenger came, it was the duty of Thomas Edmondson for that 
was the name of the clerk to tear the bit of paper off from the 
printed sheet, and, with pen and ink, to fill up the form for the 
use of the traveller on that journey. On that particular walk on 
that day in the field he suddenly paused, as an idea struck him 
how much time, trouble, and liability to mistake would be saved 
if the work were done by a mechanical process if tickets were 
printed with the names of stations, the class of carriages, and 
the dates, and all on one uniform system by all the railways. 
" Most inventors accomplish their great deeds by degrees, one 
thought suggesting another from time to time; but, when 
Thomas Edmondson showed his family the spot in the field 
where his invention occurred to him, he used to say that it came 
into his mind complete, in its whole scope and all its details." 
And Mr. Edmondson's idea has saved a good deal of trouble to 
a good many people besides himself. 

On the machines thus invented may be seen the name of 
Blaylock. Blaylock was a watchmaker, an acquaintance of 
Edmondson's, and a man whom he knew to be capable of 
working out his idea. Edmondson told him what he wanted ; 
Blaylock understood him; and the third machine they made 
was Dearly as good as those now in use. "The one we saw," 
says an observer, " had scarcely wanted five shillings' worth of 
repairs in five years ; and when it needs more, it will be from 
sheer wearing away of the-orasswork by constant hard friction. 
The Manchester and Leeds Railway Company were the first 
to avail themselves of Mr. Edmondson's invention ; and they 
secured his services at their station at Oldham Road for a time. 
He took out a patent ; and his invention became so widely 
known and appreciated that he soon withdrew himself from 
other engagements, to perfect its details and provide tickets tq 
meet the daily growing demand. He let out his patent on 


profitable terms ten shillings per mile per annum ; that is, a 
railway of thirty miles long paid him fifteen pounds a year for a 
licence to print its own tickets by his apparatus ; and a railway 
of sixty miles long paid him thirty pounds, and so on. As his 
profits began to come in, he began to spend them ; and it is not 
the least interesting part of his history to see how. He had 
early in life been a bankrupt. The very first use he made of his 
money was to pay every shilling he had ever owed. He was 
forty-six when he took that walk in the field in Northumber- 
land. He was fifty-eight when he died, on the twenty-second of 
June, 1852." 

The dating-press, which stands on the counter of every book- 
ing-office like a sort of bottle-jack, and with the click of which 
we are all familiar, was also an invention of Mr. Edmondson's. 
The only attention it requires is that the clerk the last thing at 
night changes the type for the next day, and occasionally sees 
that the ribbon is properly saturated with the ink the type 

Among the duties of the booking clerk is to keep an ample 
supply of tickets for his own station to every other to which 
passengers are booked, and especially when- fairs or other 
popular gatherings are likely to cause a special demand. Some 
tickets are rarely used, of others he will receive 10,000 at a 

Before the booking clerk lifts his hatch to issue tickets for a 
train, he sees that everything is in order. Before him is a set of 
five bowls, in which his change is arranged. Over these a lid, A, 
can, when neces- 
sary, be drawn and -^m^ 

locked. The bowls, ^J- 
B B, usually contain - 
respectively two- 
shilling pieces and CASH BOWLS. 
gold ; the other three, CCC, have severally half-crowns, shillings, 
and sixpences ; the whole sum amounting to i t or, in some 
instances, to 2 ; so that, after the passengers have been sup- 
plied, and the train has gone, and the clerk has put down his 
"hatch," he can the more easily "take the tickets off," and balance. 
Just above the row of tubes that contain the tickets runs a 
narrow strip of slate, on which, when he issues a ticket, he 


writes the " commencing number " of the ticket the number of 
the first ticket issued for that train to that station ; and as the 
tickets generally stand with the lowest protruding a little for- 
wards, he can tell by a glance at the tubes those from which 
tickets have been issued, and by pulling out the bottom one, and 
comparing its number with the number marked on the slate, he 
knows at once how many for that station have been issued. The 
clerk now proceeds to enter in a " train-book," printed and ruled 
for the purpose, the number of tickets he has issued to each 
station, and the money he has received ; and thus he ascertains 
the amount required to balance with the cash in his bowls, less 
the i or 2 change previously placed there. 

The entries in the train-books thus made are at the end of 
the day all " totalled up," and are recorded in a " summary 
book." The cash taken through the day has to agree with the 
total in this book, and with the amount he pays that day into 
the bank. 

At the end of the month the commencing and closing num- 
bers of each set of tickets to each station is entered into the 
" classification book," and the total amount of money received 
for ordinary tickets, season tickets, parcels, and telegrams, must 
agree with the sum paid during the month into the bank, A 
copy of the "classification sheets" is taken from the book, and 
forwarded to the audit office of the company, and also a copy 
of the " foreign proportion sheets *' for the use of the Clearing 

" Everything," said a clerk, " has to balance to a farthing ; 
and if we take bad money we have to lose it. I have taken," 
he added, "fifteen bad half-crowns at one races, but I broke 
them in two, and returned the bits to those who offered them. 
We can tell bad money by the feel of it, without seeing it." 
Some idea of the amount of money that flows through the 
narrow wickets of some booking offices may be formed from the 
fact that the "takings" by the ten booking clerks at Euston 
station, from passenger tickets alone, amount to upwards of 
half a million sterling a year, and are gradually rising towards 
;6oo,ooo. Each takes on the average fifty thousand pounds in 
the twelvemonth. 

But when a railway ticket, issued by the booking clerk, has 
travelled with its purchaser to the journey's end, and has been 


given up to the collector, it is not yet done with. These used- 
up bits of pasteboard are tied into bundles ; are duly scheduled 
as to their number, class, and station ; are despatched to the 
audit office, and are checked by the returns sent in from the 
stations whence the tickets were issued. If the ticket carried 
the traveller simply over part or all of the line of the issuing 
company, its career is completed at the audit department of 
that company ; but if the traveller went with it a mile farther 
on to a foreign line, the ticket also commences a new journey, 
and is despatched, with sundry data referring to it, to an im- 
portant institution known as "the Clearing House." 

When the first long railway was completed, and when a travel- 
ler with one ticket and one payment could take a journey from 
one end of that line to the other, it was considered a great event ; 
but when several different railways came to be connected together, 
the question was asked whether one ticket could not be made 
to clear a passenger, or even a parcel, over the whole journey. 
Hence the proposal to establish a clearing house for railways. 
It was not an original idea. There had been clearing houses 
before there were railroads. Banks had a clearing house, and 
there had been at Charing Cross a clearing house for coaches. 
The greater part of mankind, it has been well said, " is naturally 
averse to putting its hand in its pocket ; but when this operation 
must of necessity be performed, wishes to make short work of 
the agony, and forget it. Now, this happy oblivion would have 
been impossible to any traveller who essayed the road between, 
for instance, London and Holyhead, but for a clearing house. No 
one person could conveniently have ' horsed ' a coach ' through ' 
between those places." Hence the horses of one proprietor ran 
for forty or fifty miles, then those of another took up the running 
for a similar distance, and then others had their turn. But 
though the road was " horsed " by sections, travellers could not 
think of paying by sections. Hence a coaching clearing house, 
which enabled passengers to book through and pay their fare at 
one end of their journey, was founded, and it was a precursor of 
the organization in Seymour Street, Euston Square, London. 

In 1841, Mr. Kenneth Morison, chief auditor of what was 
then the London and Birmingham Railway, made a proposal to 
Mr. G. C. Glyn that the Clearing House system usedjn banking 
and coaching should be extended to railways. In 1842 five Com- 


panics agreed; in 1846 there were forty-six such companies; 
and in 1850 the "Railway Clearing Act" was passed, which 
defined the powers of the new establishment. There were, of 
course, at that time pessimist "prophets, robed in wet blankets/' 
who did not foresee the issues of the change, but the anticipa- 
tions o'f even the most sanguine as to the success of the work 
undertaken have perhaps been exceeded. 

One department of the work of the Clearing House deals with 
railway tickets. If a ticket carries a traveller, not only over the 
railway of the issuing company, but on to what is technically 
called a " foreign " line, that ticket is forwarded to the Clearing 
House, and instead of each individual company settling its 
accounts with perhaps five and thirty other companies, the exact 
amount of money due respectively to each on every ticket is 
determined by the Clearing House. It has a debtor and creditor 
account with them one and all, and by it, as the common 
creditor of all, the balance due to each at the end of every month 
is paid over. 

The arithmetic thus involved is enormous, but it is worked 
out every day down to such problems as the fourth part of 
a schoolboy, and to the charges on "horses, carriages, and 
corpses," which it is directed are not " to be included in the 
parcels." As the items to be dealt with for passengers besides 
goods on a line of thirty stations amount to thousands, some 
idea may be gathered of the bewildering character of the busi- 
ness to be dealt with, and the multitude of the items to be 
accurately determined. 

The Clearing House also does much more than this. At 
every junction in the kingdom where the lines of two companies 
converge, the Clearing House stations what are called " number- 
takers." Their duty is to take the number of every carriage, 
wagon, or other vehicle, and of every sheet that passes from 
one company's system to another ; to make a record of every 
mile thus travelled over a foreign line, and of every hour in 
which each vehicle has to be charged " demurrage " for delay or 
detention. For instance, let it be supposed that a truck laden 
with fish is sent from Yarmouth to a consignee in Liverpool. 
The truck arrives by Great Eastern line safely at Peterborough. 
Its number is taken, and note is made of the company to which 
it belongs. From Peterborough the truck bound for Liverpool 


has several courses open to it. It might be sent along the Great 
Northern to Retford ; or by the Midland to Burton-on-Trent, 
and thence by Crewe ; or by Midland, then via Manchester, to 
Liverpool. That truck and its route become perfectly known to 
the Clearing House. The ownership of the truck is also noted, 
since companies not unfrequently use the first that comes to hand, 
to whomsoever it may belong. The knowledge thus acquired is 
sent in to the Clearing House, and also the amount of charges, 
and whether paid in advance or not; and the Clearing House de 
cides the proportions in which the sum charged is to be divided. 

The fish truck just spoken of might possibly have its earnings 
divided among four companies. " First and foremost come the 
' terminal ' charges, as they are called, generally 4$. per ton for 
ordinary goods, is. 6d. for grain, and 9^. for minerals. These 
terminal charges are credited in equal shares to the terminus of 
collection or reception and the terminus of delivery, and the rest 
of the sum is divided between the several companies according 
to mileage. In the instance of the fish truck the terminal charges 
would be first divided between Yarmouth and Liverpool, the 
Midland line over which the truck merely runs without lading 
and sheeting, or unlading and unsheeting, getting no share of 
these, but only its mileage." Then comes the question of the 
truck itself, for the owning company is entitled to charge the 
others for hire of rolling stock, and has to be credited therewith 
by the Clearing House. Its business thus includes the charging, 
counter-charging, checking, and settling accounts, even to the 
damage, for instance, to a cask of spirits stove in, or to a wagon 
that has broken down, or to a leakage in a whisky barrel which 
has passed over the lines of several different companies, no one 
of which thinks itself to blame. When rolling-stock was injured 
while in the hands of another company than that owning it; 
whose fault was it ? Was the wheel a bad one, or was it badly 

The money here annually cleared is about 17,500,000; the 
settlements made yearly by the Merchandise Department num- 
ber 2,500,000, and passenger settlements are some 4,500,000. 
The number of miles charged for use of rolling stock is over 
500,000,000, the work involving upwards of 30,000,000 of entries 

The number of persons employed at the Clearing House is 


necessarily large, and is increasing- as through traffic over foreign 
lines increases. In 1843 the staff numbered six ; in 1861, when 
the present secretary, Mr. Dawson, was appointed, it rose to 600, 
it now includes 2,100. 

The experiences of booking clerks are sometimes amus- 

" Yes," remarked one, " some passengers are odd. They ask 
for tickets for places they are thinking of, but not going to, and 
are very angry when we give them one they don't want. Others 
sometimes come short of money, and they wish us to trust them 
for the balance. We don't turn them away if we can help it. 
If they have luggage, we send them and it to our station master's 
office. He perhaps takes what money they have, and issues 
a way-bill. So much 'paid on' and so much 'to pay'; their 
luggage, or their watch, or whatever they have to give us, is 
handed with this way-bill to the guard of the train they are 
going by ; he gives it to the station master at their destination ; 
and when they have discharged the balance, they get their 
property again. Yes, sometimes we've been cheated. A sailor's 
box has been found with bricks in it, instead of clothes ; but 
now, if we have any doubt, we require the owner to open it, and 
to show us the contents, before we issue the ticket." Another 
booking clerk had a handsome meerschaum pipe left with him 
as security for a fare he consented to advance ; but it was not 
reclaimed, and at length the clerk sold it as a curiosity to recoup 
himself. In a third instance a traveller left a white-handled 
pocket-knife with the clerk in lieu of a halfpenny of which he was 
short in purchasing his ticket, and never came for it. " I have 
often," said a Derbyshire booking clerk, " lent a neighbour who 
was going to sell butter and eggs at Chesterfield the amount of 
her fare, and she has paid me when she returned." 

Travellers are of all sorts most of them voluntary, some in- 
voluntary. In January, 1877, half a dozen children, each about 
ten years of age, were charged before the Bristol magistrates with 
having travelled, without taking their tickets or paying their fares, 
on the Great Western Railway, in the truck of a goods train, for 
three days and three nights. It was found that they had been 
playing in the goods station yard at Plymouth when a guard 
shouted to them, and they became so frightened that they hid 
themselves in one of the trucks. Keeping very quiet, so as not 


to be detected, they all fell asleep. During the night, the truck 
was attached to a goods train which was being formed for Pen- 
zance. The train then started without any one knowing that 
the stowaways were there. The truck was shunted when the 
train reached Truro in the night, and there the urchins woke up, 
and, being much frightened, they stole out of the station and 
tried to walk back towards Plymouth. They had only gone a 
short distance when the rain came down in torrents, and so 
drenched them that they determined to go back to the railway 
station, where, unobserved, they got into another covered truck, 
which they thought would take them back to Plymouth. This 
truck was booked through to Bristol with a load of general 
goods ; it was consequently not shunted at Plymouth, but with 
numerous delays and shuntings in the course of the goods traffic 
en route, it arrived at Bristol. The urchins slept a good deal of 
the time, but were so exhausted when discovered that three or 
four of them could not stand. They soon recovered under the 
attention they received, but appeared in the most bewildered 
state of mind. They were taken to the police station and cared 
for during the night. Their names and addresses were tele- 
graphed to Plymouth, and the Plymouth police discovered that 
inquiries had been made at the police station for two or three of 
the little travellers, and their parents were in great distress at 
their loss. The magistrates expressed their astonishment that 
the boys' hunger had not caused them to declare themselves. 
They were eventually dismissed, the bench expressing the 
opinion that it was hardly a case of fraud. 

The parcels office is an important department of every 
station. Parcels are collected from the parcel offices in the 
town, and also by " collecting vans " which call at the whole- 
sale houses. Nottingham, for instance, has three receiving 
houses, and the whole town is mapped out into five divisions, 
called A, B, C, D, and E, a van being assigned to each. " We 
have," said the chief clerk, "four such vans collecting every 
night. They begin at 6.30 and finish at 9.30, or, in a busy 
season, an hour later. If, when the vans call, the parcels are 
not ready, they have to be called for again, and meanwhile the 
vans go for orders elsewhere. There is a regular scrimmage 
at night. The Midland, the London and North-Western, the 
Great Northern, and the parcel companies are all eager to 


obtain goods, and they each do their best to win. As soon as 
a van has got a load, it comes to the station to discharge, and 
then hurries off for more." 

Various towns have their special classes of parcels, according 
to the local trade. The lace and millinery trades of Netting- 
ham, for instance, yield large numbers of light and valuable 
parcels, which perhaps have to be sent off to catch some vessel 
that may be sailing from Liverpool ; and, " four hours after we 
receive them they are delivered to the consignee at the dock 
side." Millinery goods are made at Nottingham in tens of 
thousands of dozens, and as they are despatched in light boxes 
they are classed in what is called the " frail " trade, for which 
fifty per cent, additional is charged. The number of parcels 
" inwards " and " outwards " thus received and despatched is 
very large. At a station like Nottingham they may average 
30,000 a month, while at Christmas time there may be 5,000 
a day for three days together. 

" Yes," said the chief clerk, " we have everything you can 
imagine sent by ' parcel ' birds, beasts, live fishes in tins, 
badgers and foxes; in fact, everything from a live gorilla to 
a dead baby." "A gorilla!" we exclaimed. "Yes ; it was sent 
to a gentleman at Loughborough who had a fancy for keeping 
such pets ; but when it got there it was found to be loose in 
the van ; and so they sent it, van and all, on to Nottingham. It 
was bigger than a man. I tried to capture it, but it bit me 
across the thigh, and then rushed out into the street. Every- 
body gave chase with sticks and dogs ; and at length they ran 
it into a timber yard, where two dogs tackled it. But it knocked 
them over time after time with its fists. At last two men 
got a chain and a rope over it, and it was sent back to Lough- 

Many curious incidents have occurred in connection with the 
business of parcels offices. One night, at a certain station in 
the north of England, a large hamper arrived by the mail, 
booked as containing a live dog, and addressed to a clergyman 
in a certain Lincolnshire village. The hamper was taken into 
the parcels office to await the proper train ; and some lads, in- 
terested in dogs, resolved to gratify their curiosity by having a 
sly peep at the visitor, and they gently untied the thick string 
with which the hamper was secured. But no sooner had they 


done so than, with a loud snarl and yell of anger and terror, the 
dog leaped up at the lid, out of the hamper, and rushed out of 
the office ; and though hotly pursued by clerks, porters, and 
guards, it sped down the platform, and was lost among dark- 
ness, sidings, and carriages. 

Blank despair was on the faces of the too curious clerks. 
What was to be done? What a row there would be. At 
length a suggestive mind hazarded a proposal : " Why not 
send Nipper ? " Nipper was an old dog, " a thorough-bred 
mongrel," a disreputable- looking thief, who hung about the 
station under a kind of law of "toleration." But the case 
was desperate, and required a desperate remedy. Accordingly, 
Nipper was found, feasted, decorated with a pink ribbon tied 
into a festive-looking bow to show that he was fondly 
cherished and was in holiday attire. He was then carefully 
packed in the hamper, securely fastened, and forwarded by the 
next train. No complaint, we are told, ever reached the rail- 
way company ; and the hope is cherished that Nipper became 
a reformed character, that he lived long and peacefully, and 
ended his days with the respect of the parish as the clergy- 
man's dog. 

We enter a parcels office just before a train is starting. Men 
and boys, porters and clerks are shouting to one another at the 
top of their voices. A parcel porter seizes a parcel, calls out 
the name and destination written thereon, and the clerk replies 
by assigning the route along which it is to travel. " Tomlinson, 
Falmouth," exclaims the parcel porter ; " Bristol and West," 
replies the clerk. " Aberdeen," bawls another porter ; " Edin- 
burgh," answers the clerk. Meanwhile, while the porter shouts 
the address to the clerk, and he replies, the clerk, with the aid 
of a " manifold writer," makes out a way-bill in duplicate, with 
name, address, and amount to be charged. One way-bill is 
sent with the parcel, the other is filed. At the end of the day 
the duplicates are placed together, the amounts entered thereon 
are checked with the cash book ; and they are then passed to 
the " abstract clerk," who abstracts the amounts that will be 
due from each station to which the parcels have been sent. At 
the end of the month these abstracts are balanced, summarised, 
and sent to the audit office, where they are checked with the 
foreign stations, and then despatched to the Clearing House 


for the division of the receipts among the different companies 
over whose lines the parcels have travelled. 

The parcels are now handed, with their way-bills, and also 
with any " despatches " (letters on the company's business), to 
the guard of the train, who at once begins to sort the parcels 
and to check them with the way-bills. Sometimes this is sharp 
work, for it has to be done before the train reaches the first 
station at which it stops which may be only a mile or two dis- 
tant, and here some parcel and bill may have to be delivered. 

" Inwards " parcels, when received, are taken into the office, 
called off to the clerk, checked with the way-bills, and, when 
all is found correct, sorted for the different deliveries, and dis- 
tributed by the vans. 

At the head of the parcels office is the chief clerk. All the 
other clerks, except the " abstract clerk," take weekly turns at 
the different duties of the office, each thus becoming familiar 
with all the work of the office, and the hours of service also 
being equalized. The parcel porters interchange their work in 
a similar way. 

The duties of the parcel clerks are, by practice, discharged 
with great rapidity and accuracy. The work is all done in a 
noise and a bustle, but the clerks become so used to it that, 
with two or three sets at work at the same time, they will 
despatch or receive two or three hundred parcels in half an 
hour. This is important, because the time is often short between 
the arrival of the vans and the departure of the trains, and every 
parcel must leave by the earliest train. 

The signalman belongs to an important and responsible class 
of railway servants. Some of his duties may be described. He 
has to see that the points and signals are kept in perfect order ; 
and to report to the station master, and to the inspector of the 
permanent way, any case in which the points, switches, or signals 
are defective. He must frequently try the working of all his sig- 
nals to see that they work well. He must know that care is used 
in putting on a distant signal, and must watch the signal or its 
repeater to see that it fully obeys the lever. He must ascertain 
that the signal wires are kept at the proper length by means of 
the regulating screws, so as to allow for the variations made by 
the temperature. In the event of a distant signal not working 
properly, a man with hand signals and detonators must be 


stationed within sight of the home signal ; and, if necessary 
other men must be placed at intervals on to the defective signal, 
for the purpose of repeating to the man stationed at the distant 
signal the signals exhibited at the home signal. " If, when two 
or more trains approach a junction at nearly the same time, the 
signalman should have lowered the signals for a train which 
should have been kept back for the passage of another, he must 
not attempt to alter the order of the trains by reversing the 
signals, but must put all the signals to danger, until all the 
trains have been brought to a stand, when precedence can be 
given to the proper train. Signalmen are also required to as- 
certain how the ordinary and special trains in their respective 
districts are running, and to give information to guards. The 
guard in charge of a train which should shunt for another train 
to pass, must instruct the engine-driver where to shunt, and on 
arriving at a station, junction, or siding, where he should shunt 
for another train to pass, must inquire whether the train due to 
pass him there is late. The guard must be informed as to the 
whereabouts of the train, and, subject to the order of the station 
master, must proceed or shunt, as may be necessary. If he goes 
forward he must take care that there is ample time to reach the 
place he intends to proceed to, and to get his train shunted off 
the main line." 

Other important rules are also laid down for signalmen. Thus 
" no engine or vehicle must be shunted or moved from one main 
line to the other, until the proper signals have been exhibited, 
as may be required ; and care must be taken when the main 
line is about to be obstructed after a distant signal has been 
placed at danger for the purpose of protecting it, to allow 
sufficient time to elapse for any approaching engine or train 
which may have been near to or within such signal before it 
was so placed at danger, to pass before the obstruction is 

The signalman must see that each train that passes has a tail 
lamp on the last vehicle, in order that he may be satisfied that 
the whole of the train has gone, and that none of the vehicles 
have broken away. If the signalman observes anything unusual 
about the train as it runs by, such a.? a signal of alarm by a 
passenger, or that a tail lamp is missing, or is not burning, that 
goods are falling off, or that a vehicle is on fire, or that there is 


a hot axle-box, he must give the station in advance the signal 
to stop and examine the train, and that station must immedi- 
ately exhibit the danger signal. The train, when thus stopped, 
must be carefully examined and dealt with as occasion may 

Again, if a portion of a train should be running back in the 
wrong direction, the signalman must give the prescribed signal 
to the signalman at the next signal-box towards which the portion 
of the train is running ; and the man who receives this signal 
must stop any train about to proceed on the same line, and take 
protective measures, such as turning the runaway train across to 
the other line or into a siding 1 , as may be most expedient under 
the circumstances. If a portion of a train has escaped, and is 
running away in the proper direction on the right line, the section 
in advance must be signalled accordingly, and this signal must, 
if necessary, be sent forward, and such other measures be taken 
as are expedient. If a signalman observes that a train has be- 
come divided, the " train divided " signal must be used. If the 
train is running on a falling gradient, where the stoppage of the 
first part would risk a collision with the second part following, 
the signalman must take measures accordingly, with instructions 
for which he is provided. Each signalman must register in the 
train-book the time of his arrival on duty and of his leaving, 
and affix his signature. 

The duties of guards are perhaps known to our readers. Some, 
however, of themselves may be unaware how greatly the position 
of guards has been improved. " In my early days," remarked 
one of them, " we were called brakesmen ; we had no brake- 
vans ; we had to ride on the top of the carriages or on the 
loaded vans, anywhere we could, and to get on and off any- 
how we could. And on a frosty night it was getting off. Our 
limbs were often benumbed with cold ; we were sometimes so 
stiff with cold that we had to be lifted off, and some, when they 
were lifted off, were found to be frozen to death. When trains 
were running down an incline, we had to scramble or jump from 
one wagon to another in order to put on perhaps five or six 
brakes. When you jumped upon a load of goods sheeted down, 
you could not possibly tell what you jumped upon, and, in con- 
sequence, many men lost their limbs or their lives. When a 
train stopped fot anything, the brakesman had to go back a 


quarter of a mile ; he was not to return till he was whistled in, 
and then he had to run in as quick as he could for fear he should 
be overtaken by a following train. I have run many a pair of 
shoes off in my time in doing this." 

We need not say that the duties of guards are now very 
different from all this, and that their circumstances are incom- 
parably improved. Their responsibilities are, however, equally 
great, and the importance of their services is fully admitted. 
The driver and stoker may be useful, but the guard is "the 
cynosure of all eyes. ' Where is the guard ? } cries the aged 
dame transfixed among a pile of trunks. * Where is the guard ?' 
shouts the stout gentleman, vainly seeking his smoking com- 
partment ; and ' Where is the guard ? ' echoes the bewildered 
young lady, who has lost her lap-dog and her temper. To all 
and everybody the guard is the leader, the representative of the 
train. Proudly as Louis XIV. in his royal robes, the British 
railway guard, standing in full uniform at the side of the winged 
express preparing to start, may lay his hand on his heart and 
say, * Le train, c'est moi.' " 

Ten hours is the usual daily work of the guard. But it is found 
to be best for the service, and for the comfort of the whole body of 
the guards, that there should be change from day duties to night 
duties, and from the conduct of one train to another ; and these 
arrangements go by the name of "roadsters" pronounced 
"roosters." For example, "the guard of a London and North 
Western 'through' train will leave Euston for Liverpool on 
Monday in charge of the 9 a.m. express, which arrives at 2.45 
p.m., and start from Liverpool on his return journey with the 
4 p.m. train, arriving at Euston at 9.15 p.m. The next day, 
Tuesday, the same guard will take charge of the train leaving 
Euston at noon, which, dividing at Shrewsbury, does not arrive 
at Liverpool till 6.15 ; but he will not then return to London, 
but stop at Liverpool for the night. It will be seen that on 
Monday the guard is on duty, or rather in his van, for just 
eleven hours, while on the Tuesday his hours on duty are not 
more than six and a quarter, so that, taking the average of both 
days, he has less than eight hours and a half per diem." But to 
this must be added the time before the starting and after the 
arrival of the trains, during which the guard has to be at his 


The travelling done by an old guard may be considerable. 
With an average of 300 miles a day, and counting six working 
days in the week, it would come to 1,800 miles a week, 93,600 
miles a year ; and in twenty-five years of service, to no less than 
1,330,000 miles "equal to making three return journeys to the 

It is the duty of the guard to be in attendance half an hour 
before his train starts. While the train is at the station, the 
guards are under the orders of the station-master; the train itself 
being under the immediate control of the guard, who instructs 
the driver as to the general working of the train. The guard 
must satisfy himself before starting, and during the journey, 
that the train is properly loaded, marshalled, coupled, lamped, 
greased, and sheeted ; and that the brakes are in good working 
order. He must also carefully examine the loading of any 
vehicles he may attach on the way, and, if necessary, must 
have a load readjusted or a vehicle detached. 

If the guard wishes to attract the attention of the engine- 
driver, he may, besides using the communication, apply his 
brake sharply, and release it suddenly. This operation, when 
repeated, will call the notice of the driver, to whom any neces- 
sary signal can be exhibited. When the driver gives three or 
more short, sharp whistles, or sounds the brake whistle, or 
applies the communication, the guard, or guards, must imme- 
diately apply the brakes. If from any cause a train is stopped 
except where it is efficiently protected by fixed signals, the 
guard, if there be only one, or the rear guard, if there be more 
than one, must immediately go back 1,200 yards to stop any 
following train ; and must, besides his hand signals, take 
detonators, which are to be used by day as well as by night, 
and must place one detonator upon the line of rails on which 
the stoppage has happened, at a distance of 400 yards from his 
train, another at a distance of 800 yards, and two, ten yards 
apart, at a distance of 1,200 yards. 

While a guard is in charge of a train, he has to make entries 
in a book provided for the purpose as to the running of his 
train, and, at the end of his journey, he transcribes them into 
a formal " journal," and sends it to the superintendent's office. 
This journal has some forty-four columns. In these have to be 
entered the names of the stations stopped at, the published time 


of departure, the times of actual arrival and departure, the 
time spent at each station, and the number of vehicles attached 
and detached. Space is also provided for the guard's ex- 
planatory "remarks." On the back of this journal are other 
spaces to be filled in : the number of the engine, or the numbers 
of the series of engines successively drawing the train ; the 
names of the drivers and the firemen ; the time lost by the 
engine arriving late to train ; or by waiting for " foreign '' 
trains ; or waiting for their own Company's trains, or other 
causes. Particulars have also to be entered of any time lost 
on the journey, by engine in running, at stations, or by signals, 
etc. ; the time gained ; and the total number of minutes of late 
arrival. The guard has also to make an exact return with 
regard to the working of the continuous brake in use on his 
train. At the foot of the document the signature of the head 
guard has to be placed, and also the names of the under guards. 

Some 1,600 of these "journals" are received daily at the 
superintendent's office of the Midland Company. These data 
are all carefully considered, and the cause of delay is, if neces- 
sary, " taken up " by the traffic inspectors or through the local 
station masters. We glance over some of these journals. There 
was a delay by such a train of four minutes through "attaching" 
a composite carriage ; of one minute in " slowing " over a 
bridge that is being rebuilt, and of two minutes at another 
place in " excessing " a fare from a passenger who was perhaps 
too sleepy or too short of change to be more prompt. These 
guards' reports 'are " abstracted " into books printed, ruled, and 
bound for the purpose, so that the minute history of every indi- 
vidual train and the precise cause of any delay is on permanent 
record, and can be referred to at any time afterwards. 

It is thus seen that much intelligence, activity, and watchful- 
ness are required on the part of railway guards, and it is usually 
found that they are not deficient in these respects. An amusing 
illustration of the formal politeness of one of them once occurred 
at the Reigate station. The guard came to the window of a 
first-class carriage, and said : " Please, sir, will you have the 
goodness to change your carriage here ? " " What for ? " was 
the gruff reply of Mr. Bull within. " Because, sir, if you please, 
the wheel has been on fire since half-way from the last station ! " 
Mr. B. looked angrily out ; but when he saw that the wheel was 


sending forth a cloud of smoke, he lost no further time in con- 
descending to comply with the request. 

With the duties of railway porters our reader is acquainted. 
In some places they are more onerous than in others. At a 
London terminus one of them, with perhaps a tinge of exag- 
geration, thus told his tale : " My gang, as I say, comes on at 
a quarter to three in the morning, a gang of twelve men. 
First of all we 'see up* a market train due about three we 
unloads her, and that is pretty stiff work. Then in the fish 
season there are fish trains that keep arriving between the other 
trains. By-and-by comes the up limited mail, and there is the 
getting out of the bags, loading them into the van, shunting, 
and what not. Then there is a passenger train with fish and 
parcels ; and then comes the six o'clock down, with newspapers 
the papers are always very heavy newspapers, horses, car- 
riages, and such like gear. At 6.25 there is a short train, and 
then the 'Bristol cheap' at 6.45 milk cans and luggage. A 
cheap train is always a bothersome thing to start. There are 
lots of lone women and children, and they get mixed in such a 
contrairy way, and want an uncommon lot of sorting. More 
horses and carriages with the 7.45. Stop, I had forgotten the 
7.30, a short train. The 8 o'clock West Midland and North 
train is always very heavy especially with horses and carriages 
in the season. After she is out we gets time for a bit of break- 
fast, but have to be back in time to get the mails in to the 9.15, 
and load up the luggage. At 10 o'clock there is an 'out' long 
train that takes mostly a lot of fish, and is always heavy in 
luggage. Then the work gets warmer still with the 10.15 train, 
the n, the 11.15, the 11.45, an d the 12 trains. You don't have 
a minute's respite on the tear all the time ; for we have to 
' make ' the trains, unload and clean them. After we see out the 
12.35, we are supposed to get our dinners, getting back at 1.30 
to load for the 2 train, and then comes the 2.20 and the 2.40. 
After that there is the turning of the mail carriages on the turn- 
tables, that their heads may be the right way for the down 
journey. When this is over there is the 3.40 to load 'down/ 
and more truck work. When we are through with that we are 
supposed to be done, except on Saturdays, when we remain on 
till five o'clock to see the expresses up. But if there is any- 
thing extra going on, we stop on till the work is done, no matter 


how long, and the meal times short enough they are at the 
best are often cut into, so that a man has to get his food down 

Complaints are sometimes made of the want of due respect 
paid on the part of porters to passengers' luggage. It appears 
that occasionally a like lack of caution is manifested by owners 
to their own property. It is said that on a train lately on a 
western railroad in Amerfca, some passengers were discussing 
the carriage of explosives. One man contended that it was 
impossible to prevent or detect this ; if people were not allowed 
to ship nitro-glycerine or dynamite legitimately, they'd smuggle 
it through in their baggage. This assertion was contradicted 
emphatically, and the passenger was laughed at, flouted, and 
ignominiously put to scorn. Rising up in his wrath he drew a 
capacious leather valise from under the seat, and slapping it 
emphatically on the cover, said : " Oh, you think they don't, eh ? 
Don't carry explosives in cars ? What's this ? " and he gave the 
valise a resounding thump. " Thar's two hundred good dynamite 
cartridges in that air valise ; sixty pounds of deadly material ; 
enough to blow this yar train and the whole township from 
Cook county to Chimborazo. Thar's dynamite enough/' he con- 
tinued ; but he was without an auditor, for the passengers had 
fled incontinently, and he could have sat down on twenty-two 
seats if he had wanted to. And the respectful way in which the 
baggage-men on the out-going trains in the evening handled the 
trunks and valises was pleasant to see. 

The neglect of carefulness appears in one instance at least to 
have involved inconvenience to the offending official. " An un- 
known genius," says an American periodical, "the other day 
entrusted a trunk, with a hive of bees in it, to the tender mercies 
of a Syracuse ' baggage-smasher. 1 The company will pay for the 
bees, and the doctor thinks his patient will be round again in 
a fortnight or so." 

Of railway servants it may be stated that every punishment, 
whether of fine or reprimand, is entered against the name of the 
man incurring it ; and these records of men who commit them- 
selves in any way are carefully examined and considered in 
dealing with any matters affecting their position. This fact is 
perfectly understood by the men, who know that any offences 
they have committed stand against their names in the company's 


books so long as they remain in its service ; and that a suffi- 
cient number of " black marks " would ensure their dismissal or 
their reduction to less important positions. 

But with regard to the conduct of railway servants generally, 
we agree with the sentiment of cordial respect expressed by 
Charles Dickens. " I would ask you," he said, in speaking on 
behalf of the Railway Provident Institution, "to consider what 
your experience of the railway servant is. I know what mine 
is. Here he is, in velveteen or in a policeman's dress, scaling 
cabs, storming carriages, finding lost articles by a kind of 
instinct, binding up lost umbrellas and walking sticks, wheeling 
trucks, counselling old ladies, with a wonderful interest in their 
affairs mostly very complicated and sticking labels upon all 
sorts of articles. I look around me. There he is again in a 
station master's uniform, directing and overseeing with the head 
of a general, and the manners of a courteous host. There he is 
again in a guard's belt and buckle, with a handsome figure, 
inspiring confidence in timid passengers. He is as gentle to 
the weak people as he is bold to the strong, and he has not a 
single hair in his beard that is not up to its work. I glide out 
of the station, there he is again, with a flag in his hands. There 
he is again, in the open country, at a level crossing. There he 
is again at the entrance to the tunnel. At every station that I 
stop at, there he is again, as alert as usual. There he is again 
at the arrival platform, getting me out of the carriage as if I 
was his only charge upon earth. Now, is there not something in 
the alacrity, in the ready zeal, in the interest of these men, that 
is not acknowledged, that is not expressed in their mere wages ? 
And if your experience coincides with mine, and enables you to 
have this good feeling for, and to say a good word in regard 
of, railway servants-, then if we take a human interest in them, 
they will take a human interest in us. We shall not be merely 
the 9.30 or the 10.30 rushing by, but we shall be an instalment 
of the considerate public that is ready to lend a hand to the 
poor fellows in their risk of their lives." 

The question of what is, or is not, "personal luggage" may to 
some readers be of practical interest. " It may well be imag- 
ined," says the Solicitors' Journal, " that it is not always easy to 
decide what is ' personal ' or * ordinary ' luggage. In the County 
Court at Exeter it was held that a photographic apparatus was 


not ' personal luggage/ In 'Cahill v. the London and North 
Western Railway Company ' * it was held that a box containing 
only merchandise was not personal luggage. In ' The Great 
Northern Railway Company v. Shepherd ' ( it was decided, on 
the same ground, that a passenger could not recover for the loss 
of a number of ivory handles which were packed up with his 
luggage. And in 'Mytton v. the Midland Railway Company 'J 
the sketches of an artist were held not to be his ' ordinary lug- 
gage.' " On the other hand, a hamper containing two pairs of 
shooting boots, a couple of fowls, and apples and vegetables 
intended for a present were decided to be personal luggage t 
and, having been lost, the company had to pay the value of it. 
The dispute was not over the boots, but over the vegetables. 
Happily most of the railways give a wide interpretation to the 
law in this matter in favour of their passengers. 

There are considerable advantages in the American methods 
with regard to passengers' luggage, especially for long journeys. 
" Checking the baggage," is an expressive phrase in the States. 
" I am going," remarks a traveller, " say from Utica to Toledo, 
and I have two parcels. Do I direct them carefully on parch- 
ment ? No ! I arrive at the station and get my ticket, followed 
by a muscular negro, Cufify by name, who carries my baggage. 
He goes with me to the luggage van, and cries out : 

" ' Massa George, gib 'un a check for Toledo for this jebble- 

" Massa George looks up from a chaos of luggage, and answers 
to him : 

" ' How many ? ' 

" ' Two, and all going through.' 

" ' Two checks for Toledo right ! ' 

"As he speaks, Massa Jack, the under contractor, selects four 
brass tickets with leather loops attached to them, which hang 
with some hundreds of others from his arms, and, looping two 
on my luggage, hands me the two duplicates. 

" ' 2 359/ '2617 ' are the figures on my tickets, and on producing 
them at Toledo to-morrow, or to-morrow six months, my black 
portmanteau and blue hat-box will be handed to me. I shall 
find them, I know, as well as the brass labels, twins to mine, 

* 9 W. R. 391. f 21. L J. Ex. 114, 286. 7 W. R. 737. 



upon them. I shall call out to the porter or baggage-master, 
'2359, 2617,' and out will roll, as in a pantomime trick, my black 
and red portmanteau and my blue hat-box. Presently, before 
the train starts, Cuffy will call out the numbers to the luggage 
man, 'who stands by the van near the blazing red lamp, that 
turns his face to currant jelly, and whose business it is to check 
all luggage passing from Utica any whither.' You may go a 
thousand miles, and pass nights on the road, but need never 
give a sight to the luggage till you reach your destination." 



The Vicar's Alarm. The First Locomotive in the World. Trevethick and 
Jones. The Trial. Improvements in Engines. London and North 
Western, Midland, and American Locomotives. Speed and Momentum 
of Engines and Trains. Life of a Locomotive. Cost of Engine Coal. 
Locomotive Establishments. The Metropolitan Railway Locomotives. 
Fitters and their ways. Duties of Drivers and Firemen. Working 
of Engines. Incidents. A Night Journey on the Dover Night Mail. 
Possible Locomotives of the future. Electric Railways. Break-Down 
Train. Railway Carriages. The Old Tub and the New Bogie. A 
Railway Carriage Building Works. The Wood Yard, the Shaping 
Machinery, Carriage Wheels. Wringing on the Tires. Furnishing the 
Carriages. Painting of Carriages. Pullmans. Injuries of Carriages 
by Travellers. Cost of Repairs. The Botany of a Railway Carriage 
Window. Sleeping Cars in America. "One Good Turn Deserves 
Another." A Sheet Stores. 

NE dark night in the year 1784, the ven- 
erable Vicar of Redruth, in Cornwall, 
was taking a quiet walk in a lonely lane 
leading to his church. Suddenly he 
heard an unearthly noise, and to his 
horror, he saw approaching him an in- 
describable creature of legs, arms, and 
wheels, whose body appeared to be glowing 
with internal fire, and whose rapid gasps for 
breath seemed to denote a fierce struggle for 
existence. The vicar's cries for help brought 
to his assistance a gentleman of the name of 
Murdoch, who was able to assure him that this terrible appa- 
rition was not an incarnation or a messenger of the Evil One, 
but only a runaway engine that had escaped from control. 
This, it is believed, was the first locomotive ever built. 

Ten years passed away, and this engine worked on the 
Merthyr Tydvil Tramway, which has " the honour of being the 
oldest railway in the world," the Act of Parliament halving been 
granted to it in 1803. The engine had a dwarf body, which, in 



the roughest style, was secured on a high frame-work built by 
a hedge-carpenter. Surmounting all was a huge stack, ugly 
enough when it was new, but in aftertime made uglier by white- 
wash and rust. Every movement of the engine caused a 
hideous snorting and clanking, accompanied by the loud noise 
of the escaping steam. 

The Merthyr locomotive was the joint production of Treve- 
thick, a Cornishman, and of Rees Jones, of Pennydarran, who 
laboured under the direction of Samuel Homfray, the iron- 
master, and chief proprietor of the Penydarran Works. This 
gentleman was so pleased with the success that he saw fore- 
shadowed, that he laid a wager of 1,000 with Richard Craw- 
shay, that, by its aid, he would draw a load of iron to the Navi- 
gation from Penydarran Works. Richard ridiculed the idea, 
and accepted the wager. One or two attempts to run the 
engine had already been made ; but in one case it would not 
move at all, and in another it wanted to imitate Pegasus and 
to soar into the air, instead of steadily taking the iron way care- 
fully laid for it. 

The day fixed for the trial was the I2th of February, 1804, 
and the track was a tramway lately formed from Penydarran 
at the back of Plymouth Wall, down to the Navigation. Great 
was the concourse assembled ; " and the rumour of the day's 
doings even penetrated up the defiles of Taff Fawr and Tafif 
Bach, bringing down old apple-faced farmers and their wives, 
who were told of a power and a speed that would alter every- 
thing, and do away with horses altogether." 

On the first engine and train twenty persons clustered, 
anxious to win immortality. The trams, six in number, were 
" laden with iron, and, amid a concourse of villagers, including 
the constable, the ' druggister,' and the class generally dubbed 
' shopwrs ' by the natives, were Mr. Richard Crawshay and Mr. 
Samuel Homfray, both as interested as a bet of 1,000 would 
naturally make them. The driver was one William Richards, 
and on the engine were perched Trevethick and Rees Jones ; 
their faces black but their eyes bright with the anticipation of 
victory. Soon the signal was given, and amidst a mighty roar 
from the people, the wheels turned, and the mass moved down- 
ward, going steadily at the rate of five miles an hour until a 
bridge was reached, a little below the town, that did not admit 


of the stack going under, and as this was built of bricks there 
was a great crash and instant stoppage. In a minute or two 
Richard Crawshay thought his 1,000 were all right, but it was 
only for a brief time. Trevethick and Jones were of the old- 
fashioned school of men, who did not believe in impossibilities. 
The fickle crowd, who had hurrahed like mad, hung back and 
said, ' It wouldn't do ' ; but these heroes the advance guard of a 
race who have done more to make England famous than battles 
by land or sea sprang to the ground and worked like Britons, 
never ceasing until they had repaired the mischief, and then 
they rattled on, and finally reached their journey's end." * 

The return journey, on account of gradients and curves, was 
a failure ; but from this run on the Merthyr tramway the 
eventual success of the enterprise though attended by suspense, 
delays, accidents, and misadventure was assured. 

To the connection of the locomotive with the success of the 
Liverpool and Manchester Railway we have already referred. 
Though much more was performed by the early engines of that 
line than could have been anticipated, it was soon found that 
their strength was insufficient to sustain the shocks and strains 
to which they were exposed, and repeated and thorough repairs 
became indispensable. For many years the locomotive depart- 
ments of the early companies had to carry on elaborate and 
expensive improvements, to meet the requirements of an in- 
creasingly heavy traffic, and of higher velocities than the imagin- 
ation of the most sanguine friends of railways had anticipated. 
These improvements, too, were made amid the bustle and 
responsibilities of pressing duties. Engines with known imper- 
fections had to be employed in the day, and repairs had to be 
made during the night, in order that the requisite number of 
engines might be ready for service. The outer and inner fram- 
ings were stayed in various parts ; iron wheels were substituted 
for wooden ; crank-axles were formed with almost double the 
amount of metal at first employed ; and pistons, piston-rods, 
connecting-rods, and brasses were strengthened ; till, with the 
exception of the boiler and cylinders, there was about as much 
left of some of the original engines as there was of the sailor's 
knife, which, while declared to be "quite an antique," was 

" History of Merthyr." 


currently reported to have recently had two new handles and 
several new blades. Alterations so extensive naturally involved 
a considerable augmentation of the weight of the engine ; and 
thus the four tons and a half which the Rocket weighed, became 
increased to the ten tons of the Planet class. 

Other important alterations followed. The cylinders and 
the machinery by which the working wheels were driven, were 
originally placed outside the wheels ; they were removed to the 
space under the boiler ; the cylinders were now enclosed in the 
smoke-box, and protected from cold ; and the driving power 
was made to act nearer the centre of inertia of the engine and 
load. There was, however, a serious drawback ; for this arrange- 
ment required that the axle of the driving-wheels, on which the 
greater part of the weight of the engine rested, should be con- 
structed with two cranks, so as in fact to be broken and discon- 
tinuous in two places. At a more recent period it was found 
difficult to compress machinery of sufficient power into the 
narrow space between the wheels ; and the cylinders and work- 
ing-gear were, in some cases, restored to their original position 
outside the wheels. This plan, in its turn, has been objected to, 
as giving instability to the engine when in motion ; and the 
former arrangement of the machinery has been again adopted. 

The 550 early engine, on four wheels, and of four or five tons 
weight, has thus been superseded by the six or eight-wheeled 
engine of ^"2,500, and of thirty, forty, fifty, and even sixty tons ; 
and though cost and weight are not to be identified with 
efficiency, yet they are fairly indicative of the extent of the 
alterations, and, we may safely say, improvements, which have 
been made. The successful competitor on the Liverpool and 
Manchester line was required to draw a load of only three times 
its own weight, or a total of less than twenty tons ; before many 
years had passed an engine was able to draw after it, without 
difficulty, thirty passenger carriages, each weighing five tons and 
a half, at thirty miles an hour ; the express trains on the Great 
Western ran at from sixty-five to seventy-five miles an hour ; 
and the goods engines would draw 500 tons at twenty miles an 

Even in the early days of railway enterprise engines and trains 
ran at great speeds on special occasions. " As long ago as '45 
or '46," remarked Mr. Allport, to the writer, "when the battle 


of the gauges was being vigorously carried on, I wished to show 
what the narrow gauge could do. It was, of course, before the 
days of telegraphs. The election of George Hudson, as member 
for Sunderland, had that day taken place, and I availed myself 
of the event to see how quickly I could get the information up 
to London, have it printed in the Times newspaper, and brought 
back to Sunderland. The election was over at four o'clock in 
the afternoon, and by about five o'clock the returns of the voting 
for every half-hour during the poll were collected from the 
different booths, and copies were handed to me. I had ordered 
a series of trains to be in readiness for the journey, and I at 
once started from Sunderland to York. Another train was in 
waiting at York to take me to Normanton, and others in their 
turn to Derby, to Rugby, to Wolverton, and to Euston. Thence 
I drove to the Times office, and handed my manuscript to Mr. 
Delane, who, according to an arrangement I had previously 
made with him, had it immediately set up in type, a leader 
written, both inserted, and a lot of impressions taken. Two 
hours were thus spent in London, and then I set off on my 
return journey, and arrived in Sunderland next morning at 
about ten o'clock, before the announcement of the poll. I there 
handed over copies I had brought with me of that day's Times 
newspaper, containing the returns of what had happened in 
Sunderland the afternoon before. Between five o'clock in the 
evening and ten that morning I had travelled 600 miles, besides 
spending two hours in London a clear run of 40 miles an 

Thirty years ago the Lord of the Isles, shown at the Great 
Exhibition, was the type of the class of locomotives then being 
constructed for the Great Western Railway, and it was able to 
take a passenger train of 120 tons, upon easy gradients, at an 
average speed of 60 miles an hour. The weight of the engine 
in working order was 35 tons, besides the tender, which, when 
laden, weighed nearly 18 tons. It is said that one of these large 
engines belonging to this company was we suppose as a 
delicate compliment nicknamed " the Emperor of Russia," on 
account of its extraordinary capacity for the consumption of 
oil and tallow ! 

The narrow gauge lines, too, were not behind in the colossal 
power of their engines. One of the most remarkable of these 



was the Liverpool, built on Crampton's patent, and exhibited at 
the Crystal Palace. It weighed 32 tons ; and the evaporation 
of the steam when at full work was said to be equal to 1,140 
horse power. It was built, in order to ensure steadiness, with 

^ . 
%. k&. 



a very low boiler. Another narrow-gauge engine of that period 
is represented in the engraving. It belonged to the London 
and North Western Company, and was constructed by Robert 
Stephenson & Co. at Newcastle-on-Tyne. 


The main line passenger engine of the Midland Company is 
very powerful. It weighs, when loaded, more than 60 tons, and 
it can draw, on a level, a load of 240 tons at a speed of 45 miles 
an hour. 


Among the latest and best of these wonderful machines are 
the main line six-wheeled the and eight-wheeled bogie passenger 
locomotives of the Midland Railway. The former have cylinders 
of 1 8 inches diameter and 2 feet 2 inches stroke. The driving 
wheels are 6 feet 9 inches diameter, and four are coupled. These 
engines will draw 26 coaches upon a level at the rate of 50 
miles an hour, or 19 coaches up a bank of I in 100 at the rate 
of 30 miles an hour. The tender will carry about 3,000 gallons 
of water and five tons of coal, an amount which enables the 
engine to run, without stopping for water, a distance of from 
100 to 1 20 miles. The bogie passenger engines are also a very 
powerful type. One of them is represented in the engraving 
The exact dimensions are as follows : cylinder 18 inches and 
26 inches stroke, wheels 7 feet in diameter ; the centre, from 
trailing to the driving wheel, 8 feet 6 inches ; and the driving 


wheels to the centre of the bogie 10 feet. The extreme wheel 
centre over the tender is 43 feet 8 inches ; and the total length 
over all, or the buffers, 52 feet 4 inches. The tender will hold 
3,000 gallons of water, and will carry 5 tons of coal, enough for 
a run of 100 to 120 miles. These engines will draw 24 coaches 
on a level at 50 miles an hour, and will draw 18 coaches up an 
incline of I in 100 at 30 miles an hour. They are admirably 
adapted for running at high speeds on railways that have quick 
and varying curves, as they pass round them smoothly and with- 
out oscillation. As a driver of one of them remarked, " they 
will bend like a whip." The express engines of the Midland 
Company will work with a power of from 350 to 1,250 horses. 

Engines used on American lines have remarkable character- 
istics of their own. Some of these are plainly indicated in the 
accompanying engraving. 


It is difficult to understand the speed not only at which 
colossal structures travel, but at which some of their parts are 
working. When, for instance, a train is running at 50 miles a-n 
hour, the pistons are passing backwards and forwards along 
the cylinders at the marvellous rate of 800 feet a minute, 
and the movements of some parts of the machinery are dis- 
tinctly and regularly dividing even a second into many equal 
parts. When a train is running at 70 miles an hour, a space is 
traversed of about 105 feet per second that is to say, thirty- 
five yards between the tickings of the clock. If two trains pass 
one another at this speed, the relative velocity will, of course, be 
doubled ; so that, if one of them be seventy yards long, it would 
flash past the other in a second. Now, according to the experi- 
ments of Dr. Hutton, the flight of a cannon-ball, having a range 


of 6,700 feet, takes a quarter of a minute, which is at the rate of 
five miles a minute, or 300 miles an hour ; and hence it follows, 
that a railway train moving at 75 miles an hour has one-fourth 
of the velocity of a cannon-ball, and is practically a huge projec- 
tile, subject to exactly the same laws as projectiles, and having 
the same force as projectiles ; only that a cannon-ball weighs 
perhaps 100 pounds, and a train may weigh 100 tons. This 
force, like that of a cannon-ball, is estimable " as the weight of 
the body multiplied by the square of its velocity, and the blow 
which the oscillations of an engine cause to be given to the rails 
are comparable with the impact of a rifle bolt upon an iron 
target. In gunnery practice the tests are generally applied 
direct, in railway battering the blows are indirect. The gun- 
shot hitting on an incline does not penetrate, but makes a more 


or less deep scoop, and travels on deflected from its former 
course. The blow is just as hard whether the thing that gives 
it has travelled 60 miles, 60 yards, or one-sixtieth of an inch, 
the actual force of impact is always given by the actual velocity 
of the moving body at the instant of collision. Every vertical 
oscillation, every lateral oscillation of a locomotive, then, is cal- 
culated to make the engine hit the rails with a terrible force, 
equalling, or exceeding, the tremendous blows of the largest 
steam hammers." Happily, in railway accidents, these terrific 
forces are never fully exerted ; the steam has been shut off, 
suction in the cylinders is induced, and the brakes are put on ; 
or the blow is indirect ; or the buffer-springs yield ; or in other 
ways the momentum is diminished before collision takes place. 

With regard to swift and sustained speed, it is probable that 
the best long run ever made was by a special train in July, 
1880, on the Great Northern Railway a train which conveyed 
the Lord Mayor of London to Scarborough. The distance from 
London to York, 188 miles, was accomplished in 217 minutes 
an average, including a ten minutes' stoppage at Grantham, of 
52 miles an hour. The first 53 miles from London were done in 
an hour, not 10 miles of the road being level; and whereas 
King's Cross station is 130 feet above the sea, for about 13 miles 
the line is about 400 feet above the sea, descending at the 53rd 
mile to about 150 feet. Stoke box, 100 miles from London, 
was passed in I hour and 5 1 minutes ; and between Barkstone 
and Tuxford, 22 \ miles, the speed was at the rate of 64 miles an 
hour. The whole run was done in 3 hours and 27 minutes, 
exclusive of stoppage. The Great Northern Company's Scotch- 
man, in its ordinary journeys, occupies 21 minutes more. 

As the charges for horsing the old coaches exceeded all others, 
so the heaviest item in the working expenses of railways is for 
locomotive power. The average work of an engine is about 
20,000 miles a year, or 80 miles a day, allowing for the time 
during which it is laid up in the " hospital " for repairs ; for 
though the engine does not tire, it wears, and, like the animal 
frame, is constantly undergoing renewals of parts tubes, tires, 
cylinders, crank-axles, and boilers indeed, in almost everything 
but its name-plate. " Do not engines wear out ? " inquired Mr. 
Denison of Mr. Allport. " According to our books," he replied, 
"there never was an engine on the Midland Railway that is not 



on the books now ; but the engines have been renewed over and 
over again. They are like the Irishman's knife, which he said 
had been in his family so many years, and which had had so 
many new blades and so many new handles. So it is with the 
locomotive. It is renewed from time to time ; and all these 
renewals come out of the working expenses, so that there can be 
no depreciation. It is included, in fact, in the expenses." The 
average life of a locomotive boiler is about fifteen years, during 
which the engine will have run about 300,000 miles. 

One of the chief items of cost in working a locomotive is for 
fuel. " On the South Eastern Railway," says the Railway News, 
''the consumption of fuel per train mile is about forty-nine 
pounds ; on the Midland, forty-six ; and North Western, forty- 
six ; on the Great Northern, forty-five ; on the Great Eastern, 
forty-two ; and on the London, Brighton, and South Coast, 
thirty-nine pounds per train mile. The average of these figures is 
forty-four pounds, which may be taken as that of the railways of 
the United Kingdom. From the Board of Trade returns for 
iSSi, we find that the total train mileage of our railways for that 
year was about 248,500,000 miles. This would give, on the 
basis of forty-four pounds per mile run, a total of 5,467,000 tons 
for the year, or 600,000 tons short of the whole quantity of coal 
brought into London by rail and canal last year. Considering 
the enormous benefit which the railways are to the country, this 
cannot be regarded as a large proportion of the total coal pro- 
duction of the country. The price paid by the different com- 
panies for their coal varies, of course, very much, according to 
their distance from the pit Thus, the Brighton Company, for 
the second half of 1881, paid over 14^. a ton, the South Eastern 
about I2s., the Great Eastern, ios., the Great Northern, 7^., the 
North Western, 6s. y and the Midland " about 6s. a ton. A 
fair average for the railways of the United Kingdom would, 
therefore, be about ios. a ton ; and, at this rate, they paid, in 
1 88 1, nearly 2,734,000 for coal alone. 

In connection with the locomotive department of a railway 
are not only the central establishments, but also various running 
and repairing places at convenient parts of the system. These, 
in many instances, like everything connected with railway work, 
have grown from little to much. " You manage your engines in 
Nottingham differently from what they did when I was there," 


recently remarked an old Midland locomotive superintendent at 
Peterborough. " When I was there," he continued, " we had 
only two engines : we ran one one day, and the other the next. 
We took three trains a day of passengers, goods, and minerals to 
Long Eaton, and one to Kegworth ; and then we came home 
and put her by to rest and repair, and next day we ran the 
other engine." Now there are nearly one hundred Midland 
engines stationed at Nottingham, each of them incomparably 
more powerful than those of early days. 

The locomotive station of a railway company includes two 
departments the repairing and the running. The work of the 
former is done by men called fitters. " I have been a fitter," 
said an engineer to the writer, "in a running-shed for twelve 
months. There were about 150 engines stationed there, perhaps 
100 of which would run every day. We only did what are called 
running repairs, by which I mean repairs that could be com- 
pleted between the time an engine came in from her ordinary 
run, and the time she was wanted for her next journey ; as, for 
instance, renewing joints that were blown out of the dome on 
the boiler the cylinder covers." " Blown out ? " we at once 
inquired. " Yes ; a joint is made by putting red lead where the 
cover touches the cylinder, and then screwing it up tight with 
the nuts. In time the red lead perishes, and the steam works 
its way through the joint. The way our work was arranged was 
as follows : there were ten of us, and we had to finish before we 
left at night. We were like clerks at a bank ; everything had 
to be cleared up for the day, nothing left for to-morrow." 

" How did you know what you had to do to an engine ? " " A 
list of the repairs required was fixed up in the fitters' shop, 
giving the numbers of the engines in one column, the nature of 
the repairs in another, as reported by the drivers. To tell the 
truth, we didn't always do what they asked for, but in some 
cases only what we believed to be necessary. We used to find 
that certain drivers thought about their engines as some men do 
about their bodies, that they wanted a deal of patching and 
physic ; but, somehow, if they didn't get it they did very well 
without it. Drivers of that sort soon get to be known to the 
fitters, and are treated accordingly. To the list I have spoken 
of the fitters would come. Against the number of ^ the engine 
that stood first, the first fitter would write his name, to show that 


he would take that job in hand. The next fitter would take the 
next job ; and so on till they were all finished. Suppose there 
were twenty jobs to be done by the ten men, then as soon as the 
first had finished his work, he would come back to take another, 
till all were completed." 

Fitters, it appears, have their fun as well as other people. 
When the cat is away the mice will play ; and when the fore- 
man of fitters is absent the humorous propensities of the men 
sometimes find vent. " I have known," said an engineer to the 
writer, " a group of three or four fitters, instead of continuing 
their work, ensconce themselves inside the firebox of an engine 
that was under repairs, in order by the light of a candle to play 
at cards. While busily engaged in their game a co-conspirator 
quietly opened the smoke-box door at the front end of the 
engine, stuck in one of the tube-ends the nozzle of a two-inch 
hose-pipe, and then turned on the water at high pressure. The 
water immediately rushed along the tube, and, flying with great 
force across the fire-box against the opposite side, splashed over 
the candle, drenched the card-players, and led to the ridiculous 
spectacle of four men trying at the same moment to crawl out at 
the furnace door through an oval hole 18 inches by 15 inches, 
the fountain being still at full play, and pouring its volume on 
the retreating forces, who, as one by one they emerged, received 
the undissembled congratulations of their mischief-loving com- 

Occasionally a joke is practised upon young apprentices. 
After an engine has had its first trial run, and is brought into 
the shed, it is carefully examined all over, to ascertain whether 
any portions have " heated." On such occasions it is not un- 
common for apprentices to be full of curiosity and activity in 
their professional inquiries, and of this some old fitters take 
advantage. As one part after another is tested by the hand and 
found to be cool, some one suddenly suggests, " Just feel if the 
piston-rods have heated." An apprentice eagerly obeys, for- 
getting that which his monitor remembers, that the piston-rods 
have been running up and down through the steam in a cylinder 
of something more than 212 degrees of temperature, and he 
soon finds that, though the rod has not " heated," it is hot ! 

" Yes," said an engineer, " I have had other jobs to do 
engine work. I once made a new locomotive out of two old 


ones. The foreman took me to what we called the condemned 
siding, where old engines were placed till they were broken up. 
There were two old engines, both of the same class, and the 
foreman said, 'Now, you can have anything you like out of 
those two engines, and I will give you a new boiler.' I took the 
best parts of both one cylinder from one and another from 
the other and so built up a new engine, which, though it is 
years ago, I happen to know is running still as a good engine up 
and down a very stiff incline. But engines are now built in a 
much more business-like way, and beautiful and powerful loco- 
motives are turned out." 

" When you went out to test your repaired engines, or to try 
your new ones, did you ever come to grief? " we inquired. 

" Yes," said our friend. " One foggy morning I was on an 
engine, going from Battersea Park station to Croydon to fetch 
a train. We could not see fifty yards before us, and we were 
running along at only about ten miles an hour, when all of a 
sudden over we went. I found myself in a ditch bottom at the 
side of the line. Could see nothing, but could hear a tremen- 
dous noise of steam blowing off. I sang out to my mate, 
' What's up ? ' * I don't know,' he answered. We got out of 
the ditch, went to the engine, and found her lying on her side. 
Neither of us was hurt, but the tender of the engine, which had 
been running first, had the wheels on both sides cut off the axles 
as clean as if it had been done with a knife. We sent to the 
next station ; they ' blocked ' the line and telegraphed to the 
break-down gang, and in about three hours they got the engine 
on her legs again. The tender had to be taken home on the top 
of a truck. We had run into a truck loaded with bricks which 
had come out of a siding, and was standing across the line we 
had been going on. The bricks were smashed to dust, and our 
engine looked as if it had been powdered all over with cayenne 
pepper. Another time I was on the express, and when running 
about thirty miles an hour, we ' pitched into ' a cattle train that 
was going about ten miles an hour. The passengers were not 
seriously hurt, but a right reverend prelate suffered from an 
unfortunate collision of his nose with the padded walls of his 
carriage. Unhappily, the guard of the cattle train was killed, 
and so were eight bullocks. The latter were so ^smashed up, 
that one of the bullocks was cut in two, and half of his body 



was actually pitched on to the top of the chimney. The first 
effect upon myself was that the shock brought down the coals 
out of the tender on to the footplate, and I was imbedded in 
them up to my knees." 

But the fitters have now finished their work with a particular 
engine, and it has to be got ready for duty. About two hours 
before it has to start, a man lights the fire by putting a shovel- 
ful of hot coals in at the furnace door. When the fire is fairly 
lighted, he opens the whistle of the engine, so that, as soon as 
the boiler begins to make steam, the fact is announced. People 


who live near a running-shed sometimes wonder what causes 
the strange noises they hear. There is a low, faint whistle, 
which, as the steam is generated, gradually increases in volume, 
until, in the course of a quarter of an hour it would, if not 
arrested, become a full-blown shriek. The lighters are, how- 
ever, by these means informed that the fire is burning, that the 
water is heating, that the steam is getting up, and that the 
engine will soon be ready for her work. A ton or more of coals 
and two or three thousand gallons of water supply her enormous 
requirements for the first part of her next journey, and " she " 
is ready to be taken in hand by driver and fireman. 


It is the duty of the engine-driver and fireman to be punc- 
tually at their posts an hour, or more, according to the previous 
instructions of the locomotive superintendent, before the time of 
starting the train. On their arrival at the shed they " sign on 
duty," by which is meant that they give their names to a clerk 
at the office, and it is entered, with the hour and moment, in a 
book provided for the purpose. Driver and fireman also sign 
their names. They then satisfy themselves that the engine they 
are to drive is in proper order, and that the distinguishing lamps 
are in their places, and, if necessary, that they are lighted. It 
is also the duty of the driver before he leaves the shed with his 
engine to examine the " Notice Case " that hangs up in the 
shed, to see if there are any instructions affecting his train or 
the condition of the road over which he will run. Let us look 
at these cases. They are large. One is, perhaps, six yards long 
and four feet high, and is faced with glass. It is divided into 
three parts : one headed " Latest," another " Permanent," the 
third is for premiums and fines. Here are notices to the follow- 
ing effect : " There will not be any water at station on 

Monday next, 2nd October. Drivers must, if necessary, pro- 
vide themselves at station." Here is another: that the 

" ' Distant Signal ' at station has been moved," and that it 

is now 1,000 yards from such and such a cabin. Others are to 
a similar purport, or perhaps they cancel notices previously 
posted. A printed copy of these notices is also given to the 
driver, for the receipt of which he gives his acknowledgment in 
a form provided for the purpose. 

The importance of the notice-board may be illustrated. By 
neglecting to examine it, a driver and his fireman lost their lives. 
" By incessant rain a river had become so swollen that, by the 
rush of water, the buttresses of a wooden railway bridge became 
shifted. The bridge was inspected, and one side of it was pro- 
nounced to be dangerous. Arrangements were made to work 
the traffic ' single road,' and ' notice ' of such arrangements was 
posted in the running-shed. The driver neglected to read the 
notice ; he ran his train past the man appointed to pilot him 
over, and got off the metals down an embankment. The regu- 
lar fireman came late on duty, and was sent home again, ' until 
wanted ;' an extra fireman was sent to do his work, and while 
the poor fellow, no doubt, was striving to do his beslt, and pro- 


bably rejoicing to think that he had come down to the shed in 
^good time to secure a trip, he was suddenly summoned into 
another world." 

In these notice-cases are a list of fines that have been levied 
in the locomotive department of the company for sundry petty 
delinquencies ; and hard by is a list of gratuities that have been 
given for special services. Thus we read that a cleaner, whose 
name and station are mentioned, has been awarded 2s. 6d. for 
drawing attention to a defective driving-tire ; that another 
cleaner has had 2s. 6d. for drawing attention to a defect in en- 
gine No. 308 ; and that an engine-man has had a similar present 
for calling attention to a coke wagon he observed to be on fire. 
Then again there are premiums. We read as follows: A. B., 
during the first six months of the current year, ran 12,925 miles ; 
burnt 3,449 cwts. of coal, averaging 29*9 Ibs. per mile ; oil, 625 
pounds, averaging 4-8 per 100 miles ; average number of car- 
nages per trip, 8; trips in which time was kept, 617; trips 
in which time was lost, 14 (30 minutes lost in 14 trips) ; and 
that to him a premium was given of 1 $s. A goods driver 
for similar services received a premium of 3. These gifts 
graduate from the above sums down to los., and are awarded 
twice a year. 

Now these premiums do not come " by luck," but by most 
careful attention. There are good and bad ways of " firing " an 
engine. To fire properly, the fireman should stand in such a 
position as to command the coals in the tender, and to work 
the shovel without shifting his feet, except when he turns 
slightly on his heels, first toward the coals, and then towards 
the fire-hole. The shovel, too, should enter the fire-box as 
little as possible. It should be stopped dead at the fire-hole 
ring ; and the impetus given to the coals should be sufficient to 
discharge them, like shot, right into their intended destination, 
close to the copper. It is a common practice to pick up with 
the shovel as much coal as it is possible to heap upon it, pushing 
the shovel into the coal with the knees ; but this should not 
be done. Each shovelful should be put in its place. The first 
should find a billet in the left-hand front corner ; the second in 
the right-hand front corner ; the third in the right-hand back 
corner ; the fourth in the left-hand back corner ; the fifth under 
the brick arch close to the tube-plate ; the last, under the door. 


To do this, as soon as the shovel enters the fire-box, it should 
be turned over sharp, to prevent it falling too far forwards. 

The secret of good firing is to fire little and often. When 
fresh fuel is put on, a black cloud of imperfectly consumed 
carbon rises from the chimney ; so that the most suitable spots 
for the use of the shovel should be selected and habitually used, 
and no stoking business be in hand "when the engine ap- 
proaches junctions, signals, or stations. It should be done after 
passing them. The grand aim of first-rate stoking is to keep 
the steam at one pressure ; that is to say, the needle of the 
pressure-gauge should, as nearly as possible, point to a full 
boiler pressure, up hill and down dale. To accomplish this 
and it is done on the crack engines every day firing must be 
studied. Engines are not alike. Some are robust, others very 
delicate, but the generality of engines require the exercise of 
trained skill to jockey them. Some engines steam best with a 
low fire, and others may carry fuel up to the fire-hole. Nearly 
all engines are affected by cross winds. The firing should be 
done when the steam is just on the point of blowing off a con- 
dition which generally happens while the engine is on a rising 
gradient, for the fierce blast causes a maximum supply of oxy- 
gen to pass through the fire and the tubes, which generates great 
heat and much steam." 

It is astonishing what may be done by some drivers and fire- 
men in the economy of fuel. " A case occurred a short time ago," 
says Mr. Michael Reynolds, "that will just illustrate the point. 
Driver A. had 1 for a long period been a heavy consumer of coal, 
compared with other drivers working the same trains. His en- 
gine was equal to theirs in condition, and there was no distinc- 
tion between them in any one point, or in the coals, the loads, 
or in keeping time. But he always consumed two or three 
pounds per mile more than other men in his ' link.' Driver B., 
on the other hand, stood at the top of the premium list month 
after month. It was decided by the locomotive superintendent 
to change the firemen of the two drivers who were so wide apart 
in consumption. This was done for three months. After work- 
ing a month the change was striking. Both men had felt the 
electric shock, and figured on the coal-premium list both to- 
gether, in the centre of eighteen other drivers ; but driver B. was 
still first by fourpence. The next month both men ' went in for 


it/ and it was in every sense of the word a struggle. Their coal 
was weighed, and everything they required to be done to their 
engines was done at once. Well, the long looked-for coal- 
premium list came out for the second month, and, as was fully 
anticipated by those who knew anything of the firemen, the 
formerly heavy consumer beat the man who had so long been 
top coal-man by 8s. 6d. \ The secret of this change rested with 
driver B.'s fireman, who studied economy with a vengeance from 
every point of view. He did what many others did not care 
about doing, namely, he fired little at a time and often, he studied 
the road, kept the shovel and the fire-irons out of the fire-box, 
took advantage of every contingency as, for instance, the pro- 
tection of a cutting or of trees for the opening of the fire-door 
to work his engine fully up to the mark with a shovelful of 
coals less to-day than yesterday." 

It is now nearly time to start, and everything being in readi- 
ness, the driver and his fireman mount the foot-plate and proceed 
from the running-shed to the station where their train is being 

Just, however, as the engine leaves the shed, an incident 
sometimes occurs that creates surprise. Suddenly an enormous 
gush of steam pours forth from the cylinders in front of the 
engine, perhaps envelops even the chimney in a fleecy cloud, and 
possibly suggests to the timid that an accident had occurred. 
It is done for an important purpose. When the engine last 
stopped running there was a certain amount of steam in the 
cylinders which, as they cooled down, would condense into 
water. Before the engine begins another journey this water has 
to be cleared out of the cylinders, otherwise the pistons would 
not work freely and fully along the cylinders, but would have a 
cushion of water at each end, which, being incompressible, would 
cause danger of the cylinder ends (or lids, as they are called) 
being knocked out. The volume of steam we have seen forces 
out the water and makes all clear. 

The place for the driver, when his engine is under steam, is 
upon the foot-plate, so that, in an instant, he can command the 
regulator and the reversing lever. This is especially requisite 
at night, when it is imperatively necessary that the attention 
of the driver should be continuously directed to the engine, 
"listening constantly to the sound of the beat, to detect any 


irregularity that may arise from some defect in the machinery 
or from priming, frequently casting his eye on the pressure- 
gauge and on the level of the water in the gauge-glass. As 
the fireman puts on the coals, the driver should occasionally see 
that he is placing them next the walls of the fire-box, and not 
in a heap in the middle. When the rails are slippery, great 
care is required to prevent the engine from slipping, by closing 
the regulator in time. By unceasing attention to the action of 
the engine, a man will soon be enabled to check her in the act 
of slipping, and to prevent her from flying round at the rate of 
800 or 1,000 revolutions per minute." 

The instructions given to drivers and firemen are numerous 
and weighty. When a passenger train is about to start from a 
station, the driver satisfies himself that the line before him is 
clear ; and when starting, the fireman looks back on the plat- 
form side till the last vehicle has drawn clear of the platform, 
to see that the whole train is following properly, and to receive 
any signal that may be given. It may seem unnecessary, if not 
absurd, to say that a driver, when he starts on his journey, 
should know that his train is following ; yet it is a fact that 
drivers have pulled out of a station without their trains, that 
they have not found out their mistake until they reached the 
platform of the next station, and that they have there actually 
whistled to their guard to put on his brake. Others have lost 
eight carriages put of twelve, and have observed no difference 
in the working of the engine. 

On the other hand, there are drivers who habitually work their 
engines according to the load ; and they can tell, after knowing 
the number of coaches in their train, when a guard's brake has 
been inadvertently left " on." An express engineman one day, 
says Mr. Reynolds, as soon as his train stopped at Brighton, 
jumped off his engine, and said to the guard, "Guard, thy 
brake's been on, I'll swear.' " No it has not," said the guard, 
" Then thy mate's has," replied Ben ; and when the wheels of 
the rear van were examined, they were found to be black-hot, 
with a flat place worn on the tire. 

In starting, the regulator should be opened gently, especially 
when there is a full boiler. " If the engine has to wait some 
time for a train, the steam-pipes and cylinders may^be kept 
warm and free from water of condensation by opening the 


regulator a very little, with the brake screwed on hard. As 
the engine comes to feel the load, so the regulator may be 
opened more, until the engineman and lookers-on can hear 
what it is likely to do with the train. A few clear, sonorous 
puffs at the start do good ; they rouse the fire into action at 
once there is no hesitation in the matter. They also clear the 
tubes of loose cinders or soot left in them after being swept out. 
It is cruel, wicked, not to give the noble iron steed a little grace 
at the start, so as to give him an opportunity of shaking the 
cold and stiffness out of his iron limbs ; and, moreover, it is a 
loss of time to commence reining in, by extra cutting off the 
steam, before he is half a dozen yards away." 

The driver must endeavour to regulate the running of his 
engine as nearly as possible according to the "working time- 
table" a book from which he learns not only when to stop, 
but 'the time when he is due to pass stations and sidings at 
which he does not stop. He thus avoids extreme speed, or the 
loss of time through slowness. He has to observe anything 
wrong on the line of rails opposite to that on which his train 
is running, he must sound his whistle and exhibit a danger 
signal to any train or engine he may meet, and stop at the first 
signal-box or station, and report to the signalman, or person in 
charge, what he has observed. Should he meet an engine or 
train too closely following any preceding engine or train, he 
must sound his whistle and exhibit a caution or danger signal, 
as occasion may require, to the engine-driver of such following 
engine or train. Just before entering a tunnel, the sand-valves 
should be opened, and the sand be allowed to flow until the 
train emerges from the tunnel. Sand is cheaper than steam. 

A great part of the driver's time when on the foot-plate is 
spent in looking out for signals. The old master drivers, who 
travel the road at express speed, secure a few seconds in reserve 
before reaching a busy junction station, so as to reduce speed. 
This may be required only at exceptional places, where the view 
of the signals is defective, and where a great traffic is going on, 
or where there are curves in the line. He will also, as far as 
possible, not only see that a signal is " off," but that the con- 
dition of the road is such that it ought to be "off." Such 
watchfulness will have its reward in the increased safety of his 


Opportunities also frequently arise for the special vigilance 
of a driver. " A few years ago a goods train, having two engines 
attached, was proceeding south at midnight, and after it had 
passed a fast express train, a thought struck the driver of the 
express that, for two engines, it was a very short goods train. 
He stepped over to the fireman's side of the foot-plate for the 
purpose of seeing whether there were any tail lights on the last 
vehicle ; but, owing to a curve in the line, he could not ascertain 
that point. He, however, shut off steam, and gave instructions 
to his mate to have the brake in readiness, 'for,' said he, 'it 
strikes me very forcibly, mate, all the train is not there.' When 
they had run about two miles, and were thinking of getting up 
the speed again, a red light was seen ahead surging violently 
from right to left. They pulled up at once to it, when a goods 
guard informed them, as he held his bull's-eye light into their 
faces, that a wagon-axle had broken in his train, and had 
caused twelve trucks to leave the rails, and that they were 
across the down-road right in the way of the express. The 
guard got up on the step of the engine, when they pulled 
gently down to the scene of the accident, where a sight pre- 
sented itself which told them that something else besides being 
able to drive an engine was required to make a man a good 

Railway service, says Mr. Reynolds, demands eyes that see 
and heads that think, and are ready at a moment to detect an 
intimation of anything wrong. " Driver Standiford, in charge of 
an up midnight mail, running to time, expected to pass driver 
Coven at or very near the Harrow junction Coven being also 
in charge of a mail going down. But as they did not pass each 
other near the usual spot, driver Standiford became very anxious 
about the whereabouts of Coven, and he looked with the greatest 
anxiety at every signal he approached to see whether the latter 
was signalled. Disappointed, he said to his mate, ' Coven not 
signalled yet ; something is surely wrong ; stand handy to 
thy brake.' 

" Such a thing as losing time with the down mails was very 
rare ; so that, when they were late, the first idea about the 
matter was that a pitch-in had happened, and nine times out of 
ten this thought was the correct one. ' Ten minutes late,' said 
Standiford, as he crossed over to the fireman's side of the engine 


to get a better view of the line in going round a curve, at the 
same time telling his mate to let the fire alone awhile until they 
knew or saw something of the down mail. During those anxious 
moments Standiford never lifted his hand off the regulator 
handle. For aught he knew, his life and those of others were 
threatened, and he expected at every chain to be suddenly 
summoned to shut the regulator and stop quick. With the 
assistance of the gauge-lamp Standiford once more looked at his 
watch ; the mail was now seventeen minutes overdue. As he 
returned his watch to his pocket he also stepped over to his own 
side of the engine foot-plate, and he had scarcely been there 
fifteen seconds when something was struck by the buffer-beam 
or guard-iron of the engine. It was neither timber nor stone, 
but was something much softer. Standiford heard something 
grating under the ash-pan ; he shut off steam, and ordered his 
mate to stop the train. A spot of oil, as he thought, had settled 
on his face ; but on wiping it off with the back of his hand he 
observed it was blood! Forty thoughts sped through his brain. 
A man killed fogman, signalman, Coven, front guard, or fire- 
man and on this he urged his fireman to put his brake on 
tighter if possible; but he had no sooner done so, when, to his 
astonishment, he heard the mail coming at a tremendous speed ; 
he instantly seized the gauge-lamp with his right hand, and 
with his left opened the whistle freely to attract the down mail 
engineman's attention. Coven, as he came round the corner, 
saw the danger light and shut off steam, put on the brakes, and 
pulled up as quickly as possible. When he had stopped he 
jumped down, and discovered, a few yards in the front of his 
engine, in the four-foot way, two dead steers, and ten living ones 
wandering about the track. Meanwhile Standiford had stopped 
also ; but after examining his engine, and on being satisfied that 
it was a beast he had run over, he put on steam again and pur- 
sued his way south." His thoughtfulness had prepared him for 
the emergency. 

When the driver has completed the trip or series of trips on 
which he started, and has brought his train to its destination, he 
runs his engine to the locomotive yard, and over an ashpit, 
where his fireman has the engine fire taken out, and the smoke 
and fire-box emptied of ashes. While this is being done the 
driver reports himself as " on the ashpit," and the fact is entered 


in the " ashpit book." He is now allowed half an hour to get 
his engine into the shed, to have it looked over for any defects, 
to see if any repairs are necessary. These are entered in a book 
set apart for that purpose. About the end of the half-hour the 
driver enters the office, and fills up a certain schedule. This is 
headed, " Driver's weekly account of materials consumed and 

duty performed by engine No. , stationed at , week 

ending ." There are spaces for the names of the driver 

and fireman ; the miles run each day of the week, with passenger 
trains, or goods, or assisting ; for running light, piloting, shunting, 
or ballasting ; the hours in steam ; the coal stations at which the 
engine coaled, and the cwts. of coal taken ; the oil, tallow, and 
waste consumed ; and any " remarks " thereon. Having filled 
in these and other particulars, the driver's work is done; he 
" signs off," and leaves. 

In a single long journey the services of several engines may 
be engaged. It is all a question of practical convenience. 
Between London and Liverpool, for instance, one engine may 
take the train from St. Pancras to Leicester ; another from 
Leicester to Trent, and a portion on to Nottingham ; a third, 
that has come from Nottingham to Trent, may run on to Derby ; 
an engine of greater strength, to overcome the inclines perhaps 
a bogie engine, that will better deal with the curves will take 
it to Manchester ; another from Manchester to Liverpool ; and 
possibly, in addition, a pilot engine may be required to assist 
to Leicester, and another through Derbyshire. In other cases 
one engine will run to Leicester, another to Manchester, and a 
third to Liverpool. 

In arranging the work of the various engine-drivers at a par- 
ticular " loco, station," the principle recognised is to endeavour to 
equalize the labours of the men in their respective grades. For 
instance, at Nottingham, a week's service may be as follows : 
On Monday the driver would take the 8.30 a.m. express from 
Nottingham to London, and would bring back the 1.50 slow, ma 
Trent, doing 257 miles in 13 J- hours. On Tuesday he would 
drive the 10.15 express to London, and return with the 4.20 
slow; 248 miles, I3h. 5om. On Wednesday, the 12.30 to 
London, and the 5.30 express back ; 248 miles in Qh. lorn. On 
Thursday he would be off duty, and on Friday and Saturday 
he would repeat Monday and Tuesday's work. On Sunday he 


would not run. Four men work these trains round. They are 
very experienced, but not necessarily the oldest drivers in the 
service : these may perhaps begin to lose nerve for express run- 
ning. They are paid by miles, 15 miles being reckoned as an 
hour's work. Another class are the " single-wheel " enginemen, 
those who run engines the wheels of which are not coupled. 
The third and fourth classes are the four-wheeled coupled engines 
which run between Nottingham and Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, 
Lincoln, and Retford. The fifth class are pilot and excursion men. 

We may here remark that an indispensable qualification of 
drivers and firemen is the excellence of their sight ; and on this 
they are examined not only at the outset, but at intervals, some- 
times twice a year afterwards. In doing this a staff of wood 
is employed. It is (besides the handle) nine inches long by 
two wide ; is painted white, and on each of the four flat sides 
are painted in three divisions a number of black spots a quarter 
of an inch square. This staff is held up at a distance from the 
candidate of fifteen feet, and he is required to count any set 
of spots on any side. If unable to do so, he is ineligible for the 
service. Each eye is tested separately. If his "length of 
vision " is satisfactory, he is examined on the subject of colour. 
Some men are naturally " colour blind " ; others may be better 
described as "colour ignorant." They may see the colour 
plainly, but not know its name. The " wool test " is employed. 
Some forty pieces of coloured wool all shades of green, red, 
magenta, scarlet, brown, and bronze are hung in a row on a 
stand, and the candidate is required to tell which is which. Bits 
of wool representing the colours of the danger and the caution 
signals are also given to him, and he has to match them with 
those on the stand. On this subject, also, the candidate must 
satisfy the examiner, or he is ineligible as a fireman. The 
answers given are entered in a form, and are preserved for 
future reference. 

Sometimes the eyesight of a driver or fireman, after he has 
been long in service, is found, upon re-examination, to have 
partially failed. Under these circumstances he has to be " re- 
duced " to an inferior position. Passenger engine-drivers may 
thus have to be employed in the safer service of shunters. In 
such matters the safety of the men and of the public is the 
supreme consideration. 


When the local locomotive superintendent requires additional 
drivers for his work, he communicates the fact to the chief of 
his department. In reply he perhaps obtains permission to have 
a certain number say half a dozen of firemen examined as to 
their qualifications. An inspector from headquarters, himself 
probably an old driver, is sent over ; and for two or three days 
he travels on an engine with the candidate, who takes charge 
of the engine. At the en'd of the trial the inspector makes his 
report. If it is to the effect that the fireman is a fit and proper 
person to undertake the higher duties of driver, the man goes 
over to headquarters ; and, if approved, is a " passed man," 
held in reserve for special work, or to fill temporary vacancies, 
with a view to ultimate promotion to permanent service. A 
somewhat similar course is adopted when cleaners are advanced 
to the position of firemen. Sometimes, when trade becomes 
seriously slack, drivers have to be temporarily reduced to fire- 
men, and firemen to cleaners. 

Of the character and work of engine-drivers we have had an 
opportunity of speaking at length elsewhere ; and we believe 
that, as a rule, they have discharged their gravely responsible 
duties with great satisfaction to their employers and to the 
public. Occasionally some have been found who have allowed 
their ingenuity and enterprise to flow in undesirable channels. 
"I knew a driver," remarked an engineer to us, "who used to run 
between London and Rugby, who once showed his professional 
knowledge in a new direction. Just before leaving Euston, he 
noticed on the platform near his engine a little toy terrier that 
seemed to have lost its owner. Tempted beyond measure at 
such unexpected treasure trove, he beguiled the dog nearer to 
him, and then seizing a favourable opportunity and the dog at 
the same moment, put the latter into his tool-box. Soon there 
was eager inquiry up and down the platform for the lost dog. 
The train started ; but the station-master's suspicions being 
aroused, he ordered a telegram to be despatched to Rugby, the 
first stopping-place, directing a search to be made for the dog 
from the engine of the train back through every carriage to the 
rear van of the guard. On approaching Rugby platform the 
driver noticed two policemen waiting to receive the train. ' Get 
the dog/ said the driver to his fireman, ' and bolt with it the 
moment you have a chance.' The fireman pocketed the prize, 

A A 


and awaited events. As the engine drew up, a policeman 
mounted the foot-plate, and was beginning to search, when the 
driver accidentally (on purpose) with a hammer concealed under 
his arm smashed the water-gauge glass of his engine. Out 
rushed, with a loud noise, volumes of steam, and the policeman, 
thinking the boiler had burst, leaped back on to the platform 
and ran for dear life. Meanwhile the fireman quietly walked 
off on the other side with the dog under his jacket, and even- 
tually succeeded in depositing his treasure in a safe place 
outside the bounds of the station." 

The experiences of engineers, officers, and men, are sometimes 
unpleasant. "The greatest * funk' I ever was in," said a Midland 
engineer to the writer, " was many years ago. I wanted to go 
from Preston to Lancaster, and with that intent got into the van 
of a goods train. The brakesman was in the front of the train, 
and I was alone. We soon started ; but when we had run 
a little way into the tunnel the train pulled up, and after a bit 
proceeded to back. The tunnel was a very old-fashioned one, 
very narrow all ways, so that if a passenger put his head out 
of a carriage window he was very likely to strike the wall. 
We had backed only a little way, when suddenly I saw another 
train following on our rails into the tunnel. (There was no 
block system in those days.) A smash was inevitable ; and, 
to escape it, I was just going to get down on to the other line 
of rails, when at that moment another train on the other line 
came dashing past us, and all I could do before the collision 
was to throw myself on my back on the floor of the van. What 
I felt during those about thirty seconds I cannot describe. The 
blow came. The engine broke its lamps and buffers against the 
van I was in, knocked off its own funnel, and made our van tilt 
itself up on to the smoke-box end of the locomotive, where it 
was fast taking fire. I was soon on my legs ; ran back to tell 
that the whole place would soon be in a blaze, and we at length 
managed to extinguish the flames and to remove the trains." 

We have already recounted some of our own various ex- 
periences in riding on engines : a graphic writer has sketched 
those through which he passed. Having, as he tejls us, en- 
sconced himself in a couple of great-coats and a fur cap, " I 
stroll," he says, "on the platform at Cannon Street with the 
assumption of an indifference I blush to record. The mail train 


lay alongside, ' 72 ' blowing off a stream of hot impatience to be 
away. Her Majesty's mail men were hurling enormous bags of 
letters from their red carts, and porters frantically hurled these 
bags into the two mail vans, in which stood clerks ready to begin 
their task against time en route in the sorting of these many 
missives, portentous with weal or woe, riches or ruin. Huge 
piles of luggage, disgorged from cabs and carriages, were being 
stowed away as quickly as the individual anxieties of their 
owners would permit. The passengers, as they stood around 
the carriage doors, were a study. Each face had a tale to tell ; 
and not a few of them might have afforded materials for any 
amount of romance. In nearly every case this night journey 
would seem to have been taken rather of necessity than choice ; 
' 72,' however, screaming a shrill warning for all to stand clear, 
heeds not these matters. A porter, to whom I take an instant 
dislike, touches his hat, and tells me, with a sardonic grin, that 
Mr. Watkin is ready ; so I walk nervously up to ' 72,' which 
is still hysterical, mount the step, and squeeze through a narrow 
gangway, and at last am in for it. 

" l Right away, sir,' shouts a horrid man on the platform, 
waving a lantern as if the whole business were rather funny. 

" ' Right away, sir/ says the stoker. 

" ' Right away ! ' echoes Mr. Watkin, who stands with his hand 
on the regulator. 

"Another short squeal from '72,' who 'refuses' for a moment, 
and the next I am jerked incontinently forward. It seems I 
have been standing on the foot-plate which covers the play 
between the engine and tender. This plate has a tendency 
to * wobble,' and is positively not fit to stand upon. Having 
recovered myself, I begin to wish I had thought of making a 
few simple bequests to friends I never hope to see again, and 
for the first time think tenderly of my tailor, and wonder how 
the poor man will get paid. When I venture to open my eyes 
I find that we have rolled out of the station and are rumbling 
slowly over the river. Feeling no small astonishment and 
satisfaction that I am still alive to the appreciation of surround- 
ing objects, I think I will begin to look about. To do this with 
any effect it is absolutely necessary that I should be able to 
stand still, and to achieve this it is equally necessary that I 
should hold on to something. A copper pipe looks 'tempting, 


and I grasp it unhesitatingly ; it was well, it was not cold. 
I smother a wicked word that bubbles up, and, after a more 
carefully conducted experiment or two, manage to clutch some- 
thing not absolutely red-hot. My general demeanour all the 
time is very much that of a figure on wire worked up and down 
by springs from beneath. We are still moving slowly, as it 
were picking our course from out the intricacies of lines that 
cross and recross our path. Before us, high in the air, shine 
out innumerable signal lamps, each with its own meaning, each 
terrible if wrongly read or carelessly adjusted. A short stop at 
London Bridge, and we are away again. And now the feeling 
of disquiet is leaving me, and in its place comes a deep admira- 
tion for the mighty minds that have thought out the wonderful 
machine upon which I ride, and which, obeying the slightest 
touch of a practised hand, is beginning to bound, and thunder, 
and crash into the darkness. Above us, from the funnel, streams 
a flame-tinted comet-like cloud ; in front, beneath us, glistening 
in the light of the forward lamps, stretch out the weblike lines 
that alone divide us from annihilation, whilst on either side 
looms nothing but thick night. Around, above, beneath, below 
us the very air seems ripped to ribbons as the iron monster 
rends out its terrible way ; then ever and again, as if in anti- 
climax to some unknown horror, we rush with a wild screech 
into dark dank tunnels from which it is like resurrection to 

" After somewhere about thirty miles I have got my locomo- 
tive legs on, and have ventured to let go my hold of support, and 
after two attempts at smoking, in which my tobacco entirely 
disappeared in about three whiffs, I learn how to smoke at a 
mile a minute and begin to feel better. But do what I will 
I cannot think steadily ; one moment I am ready to invoke 
Zeus, the fabled owner of Pegasus, and back * 72 ' at long odds 
against anything that fiery untamed one ever did ; the next 
well, it's no use trying to write the thoughts of that night, though 
I am convinced that some of them were really noteworthy, but 
as they galloped into my mind they got shaken into hopeless 
jumble by the incessant vibrato which my anatomy was under- 
going. Nevertheless, zealous for my literary duty, I took out a 
notebook, and, by the light of the little lamp that shone on the 
water-gauge, tried to make a few shorthand notes. These are 


now at the service of any ardent student of Pitmanian lore who 
likes to call at the office for them. 

" It is now horribly cold, and I am suffering from extremes of 
temperature, a bleak wind such as I never felt before blowing 
right off the sea, which we had reached, freezing me to my waist, 
while the heat from the furnace fires bakes my legs. I begin 
to speculate how much longer I can bear this combination ot 
untoward circumstances, when we plunge madly into the base 
of a hideous cliff. Then, just as I feel convinced the end of 
all things is at hand, we are standing quietly at the platform 
of the Dover station, and five minutes later at the pier. The 
Calais boat lies heaving beneath us, painfully suggestive of 
stomachic inversion. Mail bags, luggage, and sleepy passengers 
are all huddled down a gangway of 45 degrees declension, and 
all is hurry, confusion, and crush. I turn away and walk to my 
hotel with the gentleman who has brought the people safely 
thus far, and wonder if ever there flits across the minds of 'our 
travelling millions any sense of gratitude to enginemen, whose 
exceptional mishaps are duly and justly noted, but whose 
general vigilance, the only thread upon which hangs the life of 
the traveller, is unchronicled, unheard of. For myself, I shall 
never take a night journey without a vivid remembrance of two 
hours on ' 72.' " 

The Metropolitan Railway Company, by reason of the narrow 
limits to which it was confined, and the enormous cost of land 
around its original route, long suffered special inconvenience 
from the insufficiency of its locomotive establishment. This is 
situated at Edgware station, and every inch is crowded up. 
Since, however, the opening of the Harrow Extension Railway, 
new works have been erected at Neasden, for the maintenance 
of the rolling stock. On this company's lines the fires of the 
locomotives are drawn only once a week, that the engines may 
be washed out. " Practically," said the engineer, " we run them 
a thousand miles without their being stopped." 

We may add that the Metropolitan and the District Railway 
Companies work their trains, so far as the public is concerned, 
as one main line. This is done by interchange of mileage ; that 
is to say, as the Metropolitan engineer explained to us, " for 
every mile the District runs over us, we run a mile over them. 
The trains are practically the same in carrying capacity, and the 


\vear and tear of the road is nearly the same. Our line is about 
twice as long as theirs, so we run eight trains over them, and 
they four over us. If one company does more miles working in 
the half-year than its proportion, it is adjusted in the next half- 
year. No money passes." 

We are told that the locomotive engine as it now appears 
may some day become a thing of the past. " Nearly thirty years 
ago," Mr. Fowler, the engineer, has said, "when projecting the 
present system of underground railways in the metropolis, I 
foresaw the inconveniences which would necessarily result from 
the use of an ordinary locomotive, emitting gases in an im- 
perfectly ventilated tunnel, and proposed to guard against 
them by using a special form of locomotive. When before the 
Parliamentary Committee in 1854, I stated that I should dis- 
pense with firing altogether, and obtain the supply of steam 
necessary for the performance of the single trip between Pad- 
dington and the City from a plain cylindrical, egg-ended boiler, 
which was to be charged at each end of the line with water and 
steam at high pressure. In an experimental boiler constructed 
for me the loss of pressure from radiation proved to be only 
3olb. per square inch in five hours, so that practically all the 
power stored up would be available for useful work. I also 
found by experiment that an ordinary locomotive with the fire 
' dropped ' would run the whole length of my railway with a 
train of the required weight. Owing to a variety of circum- 
stances, however, this hot-water locomotive was not introduced 
on the Metropolitan Railway, though it has since been success- 
fully used on tramways at New Orleans, Paris, and elsewhere. 
I am sorry to have to admit that the progress of mechanical 
science, so far as it affects locomotives for underground railways, 
has been absolutely nil during the past thirty years. Whether 
a hot water, a compressed air, or a compressed gas locomotive 
could be contrived to meet the exigencies of metropolitan traffic 
is a question which, I think, might be usefully discussed." 

The recent wonderful developments of electric science have 
extended even to the domain of railway locomotion. The great 
cost, it has been urged, of railway construction is caused by the 
fact that bridges and other works are required to be made 
strong enough to meet the necessities of the locomotive, which 
is five or six times heavier than an ordinary carriage of the same 


size. If it were possible to pull or push the train without the 
use of a locomotive, a great advance would be made in railway 
propulsion. "Electricity," says Professor Ay rton, F.R.S., "en- 
ables this to be done. Hence the wide future that was open for 
its practical employment in our great arteries of traffic. But a 
train could not go of itself, like the witch on the broomstick, 
and power must be expended to start it, and still more to keep 
up its motion. Power could not be created. All they could do 
was simply to make machines and devices for converting one 
form of power into another. Practically, they would employ 
the power drawn from coal when electric railways were made. 
The burning of coal instead of zinc was the secret of the great 
development of electricity, as the latter was about thirty times 
as dear as the former. One reason why the electric trans- 
mission of power could be made so efficient was because elec- 
tricity had no mass, and therefore no inertia ; and therefore it 
required no additional force to make electricity go round a 
corner, as was the case with water or material fluids. In order 
to work a railway by means of electricity, they must have two 
wires one might be in the earth itself, and the other insulated 
from it, and some contrivance must be used by means of which 
a continuous connection was kept up between the dynamo 
machine on the moving train and the two wires. The simples, 
method of doing this was to use the two rails one as the going 
wire and the other as the return wire and let the current enter 
the carriage by means of the wheels on one side, and leave it 
by means of the wheels on the other. The axle, however, must 
be broken and insulated, otherwise the current would pass 
through the axles to the carriages, instead of through the 
dynamo machine." He exhibited a model of an electric rail- 
way, devised by himself and Professor Ferry; and he added 
*hat within a little while an electric railway on the plan he had 
explained would be in operation in New York. 

An electric railway has been projected to pass under the 
Thames, and to connect Charing Cross with the Waterloo ter- 
minus of the South Western Railway. The Siemens Electric 
Railway at Berlin has made the public familiar with the fact 
that the electric current can be rendered subservient to pur- 
poses of locomotion, and there are some who indulge in pleasant 
visions of the time when a properly constructed " accumulator " 


shall even stow away enough electric energy to give motive 
power to a bicycle. The proposed electric railway is to com- 
mence thirty yards south-east from the base of the statue of 
King Charles L, and to pass beneath houses and streets, and 
then under the Thames, to a point beneath the loop-line station 
of the Waterloo terminus. The South Western Railway Com- 
pany is to have power to contribute towards the construction of 
the line, and to enter into agreements with respect to its use, 
ownership, and management. The promoters ask for authority 
to provide engine-houses, stations, warehouses, yards, dep6ts, 
and works ; and to levy tolls, rates, and charges ; and to make 
provision as between themselves and the South Western Com- 
pany for the appropriation and use of joint and separate 
stations, the supply of rolling stock and machinery, of officers 
and servants for the conduct of the traffic, and also the ap- 
pointment of joint committees. The development of enterprise 
in these directions will be watched with interest both by the 
railway world and by the public. 


To the locomotive department of a large station a break- 
down train and gang are attached, the arrangements of which 
we may describe. These are maintained in the highest degree 
of efficiency. Everything is in constant readiness for action at 
the shortest notice. A telegram flashes into the passenger 
station that there has been an accident. Two copies are imme- 
diately sent, one to the locomotive superintendent, or his fore- 
man in charge at the "locomotive shed," the other to the 
"traffic inspector" of the district. A list of the names and 
addresses of the foreman in charge of the break-down vans and 
of the skilled men, twelve in all, who form the break-down staff, 
hangs up, framed and glazed, on the wall of the office ; these 
are at once summoned ; and, if additional hands are wanted, they 
are made up, as the circumstances require, from the ordinary 
staff connected with the locomotive department. 


The break-down train itself is soon ready in fact, always is 
ready. It consists of seven vehicles : two tool-vans, one riding- 
van, one laden with wood " packing," the break-down crane, and 
two " runners " or wagons which act for the protection at either 
end of the crane, one supporting the "jib," while the other 
carries the "balance blocks." 

We enter the tool-van at one end of the train. Within it are 
arranged ropes of different lengths and thicknesses, " snatch 
blocks," small and large-sized pulley blocks, bars, shovels, screw- 
couplings, " clips " for securing broken axles, and various other 
kinds of tools. The next is the " riding-van," for the accommo- 
dation of the workmen who go with the train. Formerly they 
used to ride on the trucks, or on the engine, "to hang on where 
they could." The riding-van will hold forty men. "At the end," 
says our engineering guide, "you see these cupboards." He 
opens them and displays flags, fog-signals, signal and roof lamps 
used for lighting and protecting the train, train signal lamps, 
all ready trimmed for lighting, and four train lamps. In the 
centre is a stove with an oven attached, to keep the men warm, 
and, if necessary, to warm their food. Round the sides of the 
riding- van are " box-seats," in which are tools of various kinds, 
wood scotches, small "packing" shovels, hammers, bars of 
various descriptions, and "sets" for cutting shackles or bolts. 
" What," we ask, " is a ' set ' ? " It is a piece of sharpened steel, 
like the head of an axe without the handle, varying in weight 
from one pound to three. A piece of hazel, commonly called a 
"set rod," is wrapped round it, and the two ends form the 
handle. The " set " is held on anything it is required to cut, 
and with the blows of a heavy hammer, given by those accus- 
tomed to such work, it will quickly sever any bolt or shackle. 
In this van are also shovels, hammers, chisels, bars of various 
descriptions, everything of the kind likely to be wanted. 

The third is a wagon carrying wood planks, " packing," as 
it is called, of various lengths, from two to six feet long, and 
from an inch to six inches in thickness. When, for instance, a 
screw-jack is employed to lift up the end of a wagon that has 
gone off the rails, the bottom of the jack must rest upon a flat 
piece of oak timber, else it would be pressed down into the 
ballast. There are, perhaps, three tons of packing in this 


The next vehicle carries the crane itself, which is calculated 
to lift five tons, but when properly secured will lift considerably 
more. The balance block of the crane is movable, and when 
in use is heavily weighted with a number of blocks of cast iron ; 
and in addition to this, when a heavy weight is being raised, the 
crane is secured to the permanent way by means of four clips, 
which are attached to each corner of the crane and clip the 
head of the rails. These are tightly screwed down after the 
crane has been properly arranged in position for any lift that it 
may have to perform. The jib of the crane, which is about 20 
feet long, is also raised into its proper position ; and it is now 
easy even to load one vehicle into another. A powerful brake 
is attached. The crane itself is usually worked by five men. 
The frame of the crane is iron, and the wagon which carries it 
is also iron throughout, weighing altogether about 15 tons. 


Next to the crane is another runner, which supports the jib of 
the crane. 

The next vehicle is another tool-van, which contains oil and 
naphtha lamps, crosscut saws, hand saws, axes, traversing jacks 
of various sizes, which are used for not only lifting but carrying 
anything into position, bottle-jacks of various sizes, and hydraulic 
jacks, each calculated to lift 15 tons, which one man can work 
with the greatest ease. There is a bench at one end, with a 
pair of vices and cupboards underneath, and there are also 
various tools used in connection with break-down work. 

When the break-down train is running to the scene of accident 
it is signalled as if it were an express passenger train, and it 
takes precedence over all other trains. A good supply of both 
torch and naphtha lamps are always ready for night use as soon 


as the train arrives at its destination. These are usually held 
by bars specially arranged for the purpose, driven into the 
ground. Fires are also made of coal or broken wood. 

There are several useful appliances carried with the vans, 
which are found to be of very great service. One is a " snatch 
block." This is used in various ways. In some cases when it is 
found necessary to turn a wagon over which has been turned 
upside down, the snatch block ACD is secured to the rails by 
means of a chain B wrapped round the rail. One end of a rope 
EFG, of about 2j inches diameter, is attached to the engine, 
the other end passes through the snatch block, and over the 
wagon, which can thereby be turned over with very little trouble. 
In cases where wagons are down any steep embankment or in 
fields, they are pulled back to the line in a similar manner ; only 
two blocks are used, and, instead of being attached to the rail, 
one is fastened to the draw-bar of the crane, and the crane itself 
is secured to the rails. The other snatch block is secured on 
the wagon about to be pulled up, and the rope passing through 
both blocks draws the wagon within reach of the jib of the 
crane. This takes it up bodily and places it on the rails. It is 
also frequently used for pulling a wagon on to the road, where, 
for instance, an engine cannot pass. 

The second appliance is called a "ramp." There are right 
and left hand ramps. These are used for getting wagons on to 
the rails when they have run 
off. The ramp is so constructed 
as to fit the rail at one end, A, 
and the sleeper at the other, B. 
The ramp has two spikes or 
claws at the end which rests on 
the sleeper, and these are fixed 
immediately in front of the 
wheel of the wagon which it 
is intended to pull on the rails. 
The ramps are forged out of 
the solid, having a flange on 
the right side of C, and a jaw, A, on the top nearest the rail, 
which guides the wagon wheel into position. Either two or four 
of these ramps can be used at the same time for a wagon, accord- 
ing as may best suit its position off the road. As soon as the 



weight of the vehicle gets upon the lower end of the ramp, 
it presses the teeth into the sleeper, and this compels it to keep 
its position. 

The third appliance is a catch or " clip." This fits on the 
rail. The foot rests on the bottom flange of the rail, and is used 
to prevent a wagon, when lifted by the jacks, 
and when being forced over, from going too 
far. The wheel might drop over on the out- 
side were it not prevented by this simple and 
useful kind of clip. It is used for both engines 
A CLIP. and wagons. 

A top coat is provided for each man of the break-down gang ; 
and, in addition to what "time they may make," a bonus of 
2s. is given to each on every occasion he is called upon to " main 
line break-down work." 

Refreshments are also supplied for the staff by the foreman 
in charge, which, as a rule, is obtained from the nearest public- 
house, shop, or farmhouse. In some cases in lonely places, 
where the work has been heavy, it has happened that refresh- 
ments have had to be brought from a considerable distance. 
" They are always willing," says the engineer, " to help us in a 
difficulty. Sometimes they make a fresh baking on purpose 
for us." 

The improvements that have been made in railway carriages 
have been gradual, but unceasing. Some travellers can re- 
member taking a ride in one of the original passenger " tubs," 
a vehicle that bore a striking resemblance to a modern cattle 
truck ; or of having to put up an umbrella in even a second-class 
carriage, because the rain poured in through the lamp-hole in the 
roof; or of being crowded up in the narrow first-class carriages 
that were built after the fashion of the "inside" of the old 
stage-coach. The work of building and repairing the 40,000 
carriages for railway passengers, and the 400,000 other vehicles 
belonging to our railways is, no light task ; and, beside the work 
done by railway carriage and wagon building companies, the 
great railway companies have vast establishments of their own. 
The Midland Railway Company, for instance, in 1875 and 1876, 
bought a piece of land at Derby for this department alone, 
fifty-four acres in extent, whereon they erected more than four- 
teen acres of buildings, with more than ten miles of sidings, 


and here they employ some 2,000 men. The works consist of 
seven large shops, of the same design, and of the uniform height 
of twenty-one feet to the underside of the principals. The saw- 
mill, the wagon-shop, the carriage-shop, and the painting and 
trimming shop are on the west side of the yard, and these are 
entirely used for the preparation of timber, the putting together 
of material, and the completion of vehicles. The great ranges 
of buildings on the east side are for the manipulation of metals. 
Special precautions are adopted throughout for the prevention 
of fire. Spaces of at least seventy feet have been left between 
the blocks of building, and each block is surrounded by a seven- 
inch water main, always charged with water at a pressure suffi- 
cient to throw a jet over any roof of any building ; and hose- 
boxes, with hose, stand-pipes, and everything complete, are fixed 
conveniently to seventy hydrants in various parts of the yard. 
Fire-buckets filled with water, and hand-pumps, are ready for 
use in every shop. 

We first approach the timber-yard. Here, being discharged 
from trucks, or stacked in vast piles, are logs of ash, elm, East 
Indian teak, Honduras mahogany worth from 15 to 20 a 
log red, white, and yellow deals from the Baltic and Canada ; 
oak from Quebec and Stettin worth 5 to 50 each ; and satin- 
wood from Kauri, in New Zealand. Seven or eight thousand 
enormous butts, the lot weighing, perhaps, 10,000 tons, are piled 
in apparent confusion ; but each bears certain mysterious hiero- 
glyphics, which tell to the initiated when and whence it was 
brought, and what place it had in the stock-taking. Overhead 
is a travelling crane, or gantry as it is called, by which, aided 
by a stationary engine, these giant forms can be handled and 
dandled about like so many gigantic babies, and can be borne 
away (here we beg permission to drop our simile) to the saw- 
mills to be cut up. 

The first building we enter appears of enormous proportions. 
It is 320 feet long by 200 wide, while the light and lofty roof, 
tinged with a soft sky-blue colour, gives it a bright and airy 
appearance. The whirr of the machinery, and the screaming, 
with every variety of harshness of note, of innumerable saws, 
tell us that this is the saw-mill. Here are a hundred machines 
for sawing, planing, moulding, shaping, morticing, tenoning, 
boring, turning, and recessing all specially designed for the 


conversion of timber from the log into scantlings of every 
description for wagon and carriage work. 

We approach the vertical frame saw. It has, perhaps, fifty 
blades, and it saws the wood into fifty slices, with a speed of 
nearly 100 strokes for an inch of wood, and at the rate of eight 
feet an hour. " We like forest-grown oak the best," says the 
foreman. " Hedge-grown is scrubby and full of rubbish knots, 
and stones, and nails sometimes two feet inside the wood. But 
they don't punish us so bad as they do the circulars." We pause 
for a moment to look at the shaping machines, revolving some 
2,000 times a minute ; in fact, so rapidly that it is only with the 
closest scrutiny that we can tell that the keen blades are moving 
at all blades that will shape the wood into almost any required 
form. Here also are the " endless band saws," of various sizes, 
and from an inch to an eighth of an inch in width, so that they 
can not only cut continuously (as their name implies), but can 
work in any direction the governor listeth. The endless saw, it 
has been remarked, is "a triumph of human ingenuity." It 
revolves round two wheels, much in the same way as a band 
revolves round two drums. " The wheels are perhaps three feet 
in diameter, and two inches in thickness at the circumference. 
They are placed one as low as the workman's feet, another 
rather above his head six or seven feet apart. Round the 
wheels there stretches an endless narrow band of blue steel, just 
as a ribbon might. This band of steel is very thin. Its edge 
towards the workman is serrated with sharp deep teeth. The 
wheels revolve by steam rapidly, and carry with them the saw, 
so that instead of the old up and down motion, the teeth are 
continually running one way. The band of steel is so extremely 
flexible that it sustains the state of perpetual curve." The 
ancient stories of sword blades that could be bent double are 
here surpassed by a saw that is incessantly curved and inces- 
santly curving. " A more beautiful machine cannot be imagined. 
Its chief use is to cut out the designs for cornices and similar 
ornamental work in thin wood ; but it is sufficiently strong 
to cut through a two-inch plank like paper," while it is itself 
apparently as flexible as indiarubber. 

Here are moulding machines, which can at the same time 
plane, mould, tongue, or groove all four sides of a piece of 
timber ; also moulding machines for moulding short pieces of 


timber ; and dovetailing machines, a very ingenious mechanical 
arrangement, by which dovetails of boards are at one operation 
expeditiously cut out and made to fit exactly together. The 
panel-planing machine reduces the panel boards for carriages 
to an even thickness and a perfectly true face ; and the sand- 
papering machine smooths the panel so that it is ready to 
receive the paint. Attached to the sand-papering machine is 
an exhausting fan, which withdraws the dust, and prevents it 
injuring either the work or the lungs of the workmen. 

We notice in the sawing mill that, despite the work constantly 
going on and the enormous power required, the main shafting, 
pulleys, and belting are " conspicuous by their absence." The 
fact is they are in a cellar, nine feet deep, under our feet. By 
this arrangement the quick-running and dangerous machinery is 
kept away from the general workmen ; the floor of the mill is 
clear for carrying or stacking the various lengths of timber j and 
the sawdust, shavings, and other refuse from the machines can 
be removed without interfering with the work of tfre mill. The 
mill floor, which serves also as the roof of the cellar, is sup- 
ported by 500 cast-iron columns, and is made specially sub- 
stantial and stiff, in order to bear the weight and to resist the 
vibration of the machinery. 

The two engines, of 1 8-inch cylinder, which drive the 
machinery, are apparently small in size, but they develop an 
exceedingly high actual horse-power. Their three boilers have 
a working steam pressure of 140 pounds a square inch. " The 
engines are provided," says Mr. Clayton, "with a very heavy 
fly-wheel, and most perfect governor, in order to enable them 
to overcome any sudden increase or decrease of work to which 
sawing machinery is liable." 

We next enter the wagon shop. It also is 320 feet by 200. 
Here the timber from the saw-mill, and the metal parts from 
the machine shop, meet, and are built together into wagons. So 
complete is the fit that the men here have very little actual 
mechanical labour, as may be judged by the fact that " one pair 
of men can build ordinary open goods wagons at the rate of 
one a day." 

The next is the carriage building and finishing shop, where, 
again, the timber from the saw-mill and the ironwork from the 
machine shop meet, and are formed into carriage bodfes. These 

3 68 


are seen in all stages of construction, and in all states of repair. 
Some are just lifted off their bogies ; from others the bogies 
have been removed for repair. Here are " bodies " " in frame," 
mere skeletons like the ribs of a whale without his blubber, 
but withal well-formed skeletons of sound English oak, to be 
covered with panelling, to be sheathed with Honduras maho- 
gany. Here are carriages partly stripped of their panels, the 
clean bright patch of new wood showing boldly against the 
deep, dead chocolate of the old painted side. Here are some of 
the new Midland bogies, fifty-four feet long, some six-wheeled, 
others four-wheeled ; the latter being the type at present princi- 
pally built by the Midland Company, partly because they are 
found " handier " to lift. Carriages so heavy as these, and of 
such a length, necessarily gain immensely in steadiness. The 
body of the carriage is mounted on a " bogie," or a bogie truck, 
each having two or three pairs of wheels. Through the centre 


of each truck runs a massive pin, which bolts it securely to the 
body, but allows it to revolve sufficiently to run easily and safely 
round the greatest curve on any existing railway. The interior 
of these carriages has all the improvements which have been 
made from time to time in railway carriages, and several others 
of its own. One of these is the clerestory roof, sometimes 
called the " tunnel " roof, which gives an air of lightness and 
space so pleasant to a railway passenger. The first-class com- 
partments are upholstered in the usual way, with movable arms ; 
the wood-work is of sycamore, divided into panels by maple 
mouldings, and these carriages are among the finest, if not the 
finest, upon our English railways. The third-class compartments 
have also been improved, till they fairly compete in popular 
esteem with the first class. In the west end of the carriage shop 
is a space set apart for the " finishing " of carriages. This 
includes the veneering over the inside panels, the insertion of 


the window frames and windows, the fixing of the maple and 
satin wood, and the cabinet vork generally. Hard by this shop 
and in practical conjunction with it, is the panel shed a timber 
building 300 feet long by 100 wide, with walls formed of louvre 
boards, where is a large stock of mahogany panels, maple boards 
for moulding, and also dry boards for carriage work. All this 
remains for two years to season before it is used.* 

The last shop on this side is for painting and trimming. It 
is nearly 400 feet by 300 ; has seventeen lines of railway, on 
each of which ten ordinary vehicles can stand. For a carriage 
to be able effectually to resist the action of the weather, and 
also to maintain a suitable appearance, it has to receive a 
succession of coats. Including the lead colour, the " filling up," 
the rubbing the surface smoothly down, the painting, and the 
repeated varnishing, there are no fewer than twenty-five opera- 
tions before a carriage is finished. Meanwhile, in their various 
stages of painting they present a varied appearance : their dull 
look in the initiatory stages, the improvement made at each 
successive stage, until at last they are completed as handsomely 
as a gentleman's carriage ; and a bystander can see his face in 
the carriage almost as plainly as in a mirror. 

At the west end of this block the trimming and upholstery 
work of the carriages is prepared ; indeed, much of it is being 
done while the carriages are being painted. The cushions are 
stuffed with horsehair, and are covered on one side with woollen 
cloth, and on the other with American cloth, the latter being 
cleaner and cooler for dusty and hot weather. The horsehair is 
worth from a shilling to eighteenpence a pound, and a single 
compartment of a first-class carriage will require 100 to no 
pounds costing, therefore, from 5 to 8 for one compart- 
ment. The roof is lined with what is called wax cloth, worth 
two shillings a square yard and upwards. 

On the other, the eastern, side of the yard are the buildings 
in which metal work is dealt with. There is the foundry, 
whence, for instance, 2,000 tons of castings are annually turned 
out ; there is the smithy, with its ninety-two rows of hearths ; 
and the bolt and spring makers' shops, which manufacture more 

* From a paper contributed to the Chesterfield and Derbyshire Institute 
of Mining, Civil, and Mechanical Engineers, by Mr. T. G. Clayton. 

B B 


than twenty tons of bolts and nuts every week, and which mak< 
and repair springs. Here also is the wheel-tiring shop. 
The work done by railway carnage wheels is enormous. A 
wheel of four feet diameter is, of course, twelve feet or four 
yards in circumference. In running a mile it will have to turn 
round 440 times, and in ten miles 4,400 times ; that is to say, 
in running from London to Leeds, a distance of about 200 
miles, it will turn some 88,000 times. That is a good many 
turns, and a good 'deal of wear and tear, for one very moderate 
journey. It is frequently necessary to remove wheels from, 
and to force others upon, their axles, to do which a machine, 
with a pressure of two hundred tons, is applied. Here, also, 
the various processes are carried on by which wheels are made 
or repaired a trade of itself ; and of tires alone, remarked Mr. 
Clayton, "we have 140,000 or 150,000 of our own running every 
day," a number since largely increased. " Before a carriage be- 
gins its journey," he continued, " the train examiner takes what 
is called 'a pricker 1 (a piece of iron bent into a suitable shape), 
with which he opens the grease holes, to know that they are 
properly lubricated, and also to tell whether there is sufficient 
brass in the * journal' against which the axle in running presses, 
so that it may run with safety and ease. Experience enables 
him at once to know by the ' feel ' of the pricker if all is right." 

We may here remark that in the repairing shed of the Metro- 
politan, at Edgware Road, the tires when put on are heated by 
gas. The tire is placed on a sort of gridiron, and jets of blue 
gas are lit. The wheel hangs above by a chain ; and when the 
tire has been sufficiently expanded by the heat, the wheel is 
quietly lowered into it. As the tire cools, it contracts, and is 
securely " wrung " on. " By this process," remarked the en- 
gineer, " I have never had a tire go wrong." 

To the machine and fitting shop which contains nearly 
200 lathes and machines required for finishing the iron-work 
is brought nearly all the material made in the foundry and 
smithy, whence it goes over to the wood shops, to form part of 
the vehicles under construction or repair. Such are some of the 
arrangements made at the Midland Railway carriage establish- 
ment in order to maintain in efficient order a rolling stock 
consisting of some 4,000 carriages and 34,000 wagons. To 
these considerable additions have lately been made by the 


purchase of what have hitherto been the wagons of private 

We may add that in each department there are convenient 
and comfortable mess-rooms for the workmen. There are 
several cooks in each room, and each workman brings his 
victuals of fish, flesh, or fowl, or chops, beef, or steak, ' and at 
the meal-time he finds his dish set before him, all excellently 
cooked, and also hot. This is a great boon to the workmen 
who live at a distance from the works. At breakfast every day 
a minister conducts a short service, and delivers a brief address, 
or if one cannot be obtained there are several of the workmen 
who are able to suitably address their fellow-workmen on re- 
ligious topics. On several occasions the workmen here, includ- 
ing those of the locomotive department, have been addressed 
in the open air by distinguished visitors ; and thus, at the recent 
Church Congress held at Derby, the Rev. Canon Farrar spoke 
to a delighted auditory of some 2,000 of them. 

The cost of the repairs of passenger carriages has been esti- 
mated at from \\d. to 2\d. per train mile. The cost of repair- 
ing goods trucks varies very much, but in general is from 2\d. 
to $d. per train mile. On several lines this is greatly exceeded, 
and the maximum reaches 6d. There appear to be two general 
causes for this result : one, the large proportional stock required 
for the mileage run in agricultural districts ; the other, the large 
stock needed for mineral, more especially for coal traffic. For 
this traffic the number of trucks in a train is large ; the trucks 
are heavily laden, and liable to much rough usage. 

In competition with the best bogie carriages are the Pullmans, 
"fit," as Sir Edward Baines has said, "for the journeyings of 
monarchs." In the autumn of 1872, Mr. Allport visited the 
United States, and found how rapid and remarkable had been 
the success of these carriages. In 1867 there were only thirty- 
seven of them in America ; but five years later there were 700 
in remunerative operation ; and the company's contracts are 
with more than 150 different railways, and extend over 30,000 
miles of American railway. Careful observation and inquiry 
led Mr. Allport to the conclusion that these carriages might be 
of service in this country, especially for long or night journeys. 
Eventually it was arranged between the Midland board and 
Mr. Pullman that his cars should be introduced on fheir lines ; 


and a contract was entered into for fifteen years, by which the 
Pullman Company provides the cars in good order and with 
suitable attendants ; and the railway company supplies motive 
powe$ warmth, and protection. In payment, the railway 
company has the ordinary first-class fare, and the Pullman 
Company a certain very moderate additional sum. That every- 
thing has been ^completed without regard to expense may be 


inferred from the fact that the Pullman parlour car costs no 
less than ^"3,000 a sum nearly equal to that spent on the 
magnificent travelling carriage built by the London and North 
Western Railway for the use of the Queen. 

When the first journey of the Pullman train was run, it was 
from St. Pancras to Bedford. "Literally nothing," wrote one 
who then travelled, " seemed left to desire. Entering the train 



from one end, you were introduced to the parlour car, a luxurious 
contrivance for short lines and day-travel only. It was a taste- 
fully and richly decorated saloon, over fifty feet long, light, 
warm, well ventilated, and exquisitely carpeted, upholstered, 

and furnished. Along each side, and close to the windows, were 
crimson-cushioned easy chairs, in which, by means of a pivot, 
you might swing yourself round to converse with your neigh- 
bour, or, by means of one of the thousand ingenious contrivances 


with which the whole train abounded, you might tilt yourself 
back to the proper angle of enjoyment. The centre is free for 
passing to and fro. There are various little saloons of the 
private box order, in which a family party might make them- 
selves happy. Then you came to the drawing-room sleeping 
car, another long, well-appointed saloon, with fixed seats at the 
windows like short sofas, two and two, and facing each other. 
Between them a firm, convenient table could be planted, and 
upon one of them we were able, while the train ran at over fifty 
miles an hour, to write without difficulty. The tables removed, 
the seats lowered to meet .each other became an admirable 
bedstead, while some beautifully ornamented and finished panels 
overhead, that appeared to be merely part of the sloping roof 
of the saloon, were unfastened, and in a moment converted into 
equally comfortable upper berths. By-and-by the saloon was 
restored to its normal drawing-room aspect, the tables were 
again put up, waiters entered with snow-white cloths, pantries 
and anterooms were brought into operation, and there appeared 
a dining hall as complete in its requirements as the drawing- 
room and sleeping-room had been in theirs." 

How far the Pullman car will be generally preferred in 
England is a matter of some doubt. Americans themselves, 
when they come to this country, appear well content with the 
matchless speed of English railway travelling and the comfort 
of half-filled ordinary first-class carriages. When Lord George 
Bentinck said on an off-day at Newmarket, only a few owners, 
trainers, and jockeys being present, "This is what I like. I 
hate a crowd," he expressed a feeling widely distributed among 
our population, and one adverse to the adoption of long cars. 
They are, without question, a great boon to ladies and to 
solitary travellers. Relieved of the custody of her impedimenta, 
of all fear of insult, and pleased with the handsome surroundings 
of the Pullman drawing-room, the lady traveller will appreciate 
the provision made for her comfort; and the more social 
varieties of the Englishman, if travelling alone, may also take 
kindly to the long car. A shy and sensitive minority will 
perhaps prefer the comparative seclusion of the ordinary first- 
class carriage. 

Some of the sleeping cars on American lines appear to have 
their drawbacks. A traveller tells us of his experiences in one 


of them. " There was something touching," he says, " in the 
perfect neatness and comfort of the beds. In the midst of a 
great, dirty, roaring, selfish city, one could hardly have looked 
for such domesticity and motherly providence. How cool and 
fresh the linen looked! How springy the mattresses! How soft 
the pillows ! Surely this must be the happiest way to bridge 
the two hundred and odd miles between New York and Boston ! 
* To sleep ! ' and, by a sleep, to say we end the newsboys and the 
pop-corn man, urchin with gum-drops, and with Ridley's candies, 
the long array of ' bound books/ novels, * Harper's,' ' Leslie's,' 
' Fun for Three Months/ and, though last not least, the stench 
the gloom, the smoke, the dirt, of that foul place, the depot at 
New Haven ! 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished ! I 
little thought that in that -sleep there might be dreams ! 

"After the tedious gentleman had given me my ticket, I 
suffered myself to be led like a lamb to a bench in an alcove 
at one side of the car. This bench a youth shared with me, and 
opposite were two other victims. All four of us were innocent 
and unsuspecting ; we entered into a light and courteous con- 
versation ; we played about the subject that lay nearest our 
thoughts, as though we were utterly indifferent to it ; we 
encouraged each other in a fatuous confidence in the honour 
and good intentions of those to whom we had blindly intrusted 
ourselves. We expressed our belief in the beds! Each one 
told the other that he expected to sleep like a top! We 
believed we should, or we tried to believe it ; and as we really 
know nothing about tops and how they sleep, perhaps we did 
sleep like them. In that case, tops are a miserable class of 
creatures. Conversation soon became confidential. The youth, 
my neighbour, wound up his watch. He said that he had been 
told that he must particularly look out for pickpockets in the 
sleeping-cars! His papa had told him that they looked 
remarkably like gentlemen. His watch was a valuable one. 
He had more money with him than he cared to lose. His aunt 
had advised him to pin it into his fob ; but his brother had told 
him that all such devices were useless against pickpockets. 

"Then the man appeared who makes up the beds. He 
pulled levers up and down, shots bolts, turned windlasses, 
adjusted screws, and finally we saw our snug alcoves trans- 
formed into four beds of such a guileless and prepossessing 


appearance as might have deceived the very elect ! For us, as 
for the rest, snow-white sheets were spread ; crimson blankets 
which the chilly August air, and the dreary, pattering rain made 
seem most comfortable were cosily tucked in, plumpest pillows 
invited our heads, and the shadowing curtains enclosed me and 
the confiding youth in their folds while we undressed for the 
night. But, reader, I am no poet, and cannot describe that night. 

" After a few hours of abortive attempts at sleeping, I at last 
found myself, in the early grey of morning, as wide awake as if it 
were broad noon. I leaned out of my coffin and looked about 
in the dim light to see how it fared with the other dead people. 
My confiding friend was sitting on a pillow on the floor by the 
side of his berth, apparently wondering why his maiden-aunt 
had not included sleeping-cars in her list of dangers he was to 

One good turn deserves another ; and we are patriotically 
happy to read in the Detroit Tribune that the Wagner Sleep- 
ing Car Company have been fitting up and advertising an 
" English parlour car," to be put upon the Michigan Central. 
" It is built," we are told, " in continental style, with compart- 
ments, doors at the side, a smoking-room in each end, and a 
narrow foot platform running along the side. It will be ele- 
gantly fitted up, and equipped with sofa chairs." 

But while the railway companies are endeavouring to pro- 
mote the comfort of their travellers, it is to be regretted that 
there are some passengers who are unworthy of such consider- 
ation. A chairman of the London and South Western stated 
to a meeting of shareholders, that he had been shown a cushion 
in one of their carriages in the back of which no fewer than one 
hundred and fifty holes had been cut ; and the amount of loss 
which railway companies sustain from wilful and wanton damage 
is as great as it is inexcusable. A railway carnage is often so 
mutilated that it has to be upholstered de novo ; and brainless 
fops who wear diamond rings consider it a display at once of 
their elegance and wit to scrape the glass in such a manner as 
to interrupt the view, or even to outrage decency, so that the 
window has to be replaced before the carriage again becomes 
suitable for public use. 

Some travellers, it appears, are careful observers of such 
scientific minutics as the botany of the interior of railway 


carriages. Dr. M'Nab, Professor of Botany in the Royal 
College of Science, Dublin, says that in a railway carriage on 
the express between Paddington and Milford, he noticed in the 
window two tufts of moss, one near each corner of the glass. 
" There was a little black soil kept moist by the condensation 
of vapour on the window, and two little bright green patches, 
consisting of about forty or fifty plants, about one-eighth of an 
inch in height, and apparently very healthy. The other window 
had the same moist deposit of soil, but no mosses. I put a 
small quantity of the soil and moss into my pocket-book, and 
after my return to the college placed two or three of the little 
plants under the microscope. The plants have only a few 
leaves, and probably belong to the genus tortula ; but along 
with the moss I could detect an abundance of two species of 
oscillatoria in a very healthy condition, with abundance of 
phycochroma in their cells. On examining the slide with a 
higher power, I detected a number of diatoms, all belonging 
to a small species of navicula. The soil in which the mosses 
were growing was very peculiar. It consisted almost exclusively 
of exceedingly minute black particles, appearing as mere specks 
with a sixth-inch object glass, and all exhibiting the most active 
Brownian movements. The moving soil seems a fitting accom- 
paniment to the locomotive habitat of the specimens. I 
suppose it will be necessary to say the distribution of the plants 
is remarkable, extending, as it does, from Paddington to 
Milford and back. You may, therefore, accept this as a small 
contribution towards the 'Botany of the South Wales Ex- 
press.' " 

Mr. Elliott, the Midland station master at Leeds, has in- 
vented an ingenious contrivance for labelling railway carriages. 
It consists of a wooden framework encasing transparent indi- 
cators inscribed with letters about an inch and a half deep. 
These work in a groove, and by means of an ordinary carriage- 
key may* be concealed behind the frame, or let down .so as to 
indicate to the passengers, by day or by night, the destination 
of the carriage. Carriages running between London and Leeds 
and Bradford may be labelled " London " on the upward 
journey, and on the downward, as may be arranged, " Leeds " 
or " Bradford." 

Near Trent station is a spot often passed by those who are 


unaware of the interesting and useful work there carried on. 
The place is situated just where the two lines from Trent con- 
verge, and whence they run on together towards Derby. It is 
known among railway men as " the sheet stores " ; it is not 
only a store, but a manufactory. At one time the spot was 
used it being on the Erewash Canal as well as on the railway 
as a coke stores ; and the directors of the old Midland Coun- 
ties Railway Company had offices here for the transaction of 
business. The basin, formerly used for coaling purposes, now 
receives barges which bring ballast that has been dredged from 
the Trent, and which is here trans-shipped into ballast trains for 
the service of the line. 

Our reader has some rainy night stood at a roadside station 
and watched a goods train pass slowly by. It was a very wet, 
long, low, solid mass, and over each wagon was some sort of 
black-looking covering that glistened in the lamp-light, and 
showed pools of water that had collected in the folds of the 
sheets water that otherwise would have soaked into the boxes 
or bales of merchandise of various kinds underneath. It is to 
the making and the repair of these sheets that the extensive 
manufactory near Trent station is devoted. 

Sheets were employed for a very curious purpose at one time. 
The circumstance is little known, but it was mentioned to us 
on unquestionable authority. When coals were first carried by 
railway on the then London and Birmingham line, they were 
sheeted doivn, for fear tJiey should be seen, it being thought be- 
neath the dignity of a railway company to carry minerals ! An 
indignant objection was at first made to their being carried at 

all, and it was reported to Stephenson that Mr. B , of the 

London and Birmingham line, had said : " They will want us to 
carry dung next." On hearing this, " Old George's " anger was 

aroused, and he replied, " You tell B from me, that when 

he travels by rail they carry dung now." 

The selection by the Midland Company of the present lonely 
spot for their sheet stores was partly because of the risk of fire 
consequent on the inflammable nature of some of the materials 
employed. Formerly the work was carried on at Derby station, 
over the cheese warehouse ; and, within a twelvemonth of the 
removal to temporary premises near Trent, they were burned 


The covers are made of a stout canvas, sent here in " bolts," 
or pieces of 100 feet each, from Dundee, Leeds, or elsewhere, and 
cut up in lengths 20 feet long. A single sewing-machine will 
do as much work as half a dozen sewing-men. When the sheet 
has been made, it is taken to a large shed, laid on the floor, 
and " dressed " ; in other words, it is vigorously scrubbed with a 
long-handled stiff brush dipped into a combination of boiled 
linseed oil and vegetable black the black being the soot of 
burned cabbage stalks or other vegetable refuse. One coat of 
this oil is brushed in on each side, then three more are added, 
and the sheets have now a bright " face" upon them. 

Besides the making of new sheets, there is also the mending 
of old ones. " You can't guarantee a sheet," said Mr. Clat- 
worthy, the superintendent, " after it has had even one journey." 
The corners of the trucks, the awkward projections of the 
packages, or the carelessness of those who handle the sheets, 
will cause them to be pierced or torn ; and, if there is one hole, 
however small, it may let through water enough to spoil a lot 
of valuable property. A large number of men and boys may 
be seen squatting about on the floor, in tailor-like positions, 
darning, patching, and piercing the places that have already 
been found perhaps by holding the sheets before a window 
to be defective. These darns are subsequently blackened over 
by boys ; or, in bad cases,* the whole sheet is re-painted. A 
sheet will sometimes come in for repairs half a dozen times in a 
year. A mark placed upon it, and sundry brief but suggestive 
records in a "sheet-book," enable the clerks to recognise any 
sheet, and to trace its history. 

When a sheet has been painted, it is laid over a pole, and 
hoisted by a couple of ropes and pulleys over the heads of the 
workmen, that it may dry. It is then lowered, to be stencilled 
with the gigantic fourteen-inch letters M R Co. These are put 
twice on each side of the sheet, so that it may easily be recog- 
nised ; and, with the same design, the edges of the sheet are 
painted yellow, so that when folded up and mixed with the 
sheets of perhaps half a dozen other companies, each may be 
known without unfolding all. The Great Northern has a white 
and blue line from corner to corner ; and the London and North 
Western has two red lines running lengthwise over the sheet. 
These drying rooms are heated by steam, and will hold 600 



sheets. Each sheet when finished is worth about 2. It lasts 
ordinarily four years; though, said Mr. Clatworthy, "we often 
get rather more out of them." Several thousand new ones are 
here made every year. 

In addition to sheets, various kinds of covers and ropes are 
made at the Trent sheet stores. The shunting ropes are of six- 
inch rope, ten yards long, and are intended chiefly for goods 
yards and collieries. Into one end of the rope a great hook is 
spliced, and into the other end perhaps a ring. These are so 
firmly interwoven that not an engine on the line could draw 
one out : the rope would rather break. " Lashing ropes," for 
binding wool or timber on wagons, ropes for slings with which 
to hoist goods into warehouses, and similar appliances, are here 
prepared. Covers for the horses are also made. Formerly they 
were of ordinary oil-cloth, which effectually excluded the wet, 
but as effectually kept in the moisture. Flannel is now pre- 
ferred, and it supplies a warm jacket for horses in wet or cold 
weather, and fewer of them now go to the infirmary. 



" Brad shaw." The Editorial Department of a Railway. The Official Time- 
Table. The " Working Time-Table." The " Appendix" to the Work- 
ing Time-Table. Excursion Time-Table. The Staff of a Railway 
Editor. Charms of Early Railway Travelling. Third-Class Passengers. 
Improvements in Third-Class Travelling. "Third Class by all Trains." 
Numbers of Third-Class Passengers. First-Class Passengers. 
Workmen's Trains. Special Trains. Fox Hunters. New " Twin Day 
Saloons" of London and North Western, Dining Saloon Cars on Mid- 
land. Limited Pullman Express on London and Brighton. Special 
Sociability of Certain Railroad Travellers. The Royal Train. Odd Ideas 
of Locomotion. A Passenger Travelling as Merchandise. An Exciting 
Episode. Carelessness of Travellers. Foolishness of Travellers. A 
New Tealander. An Iron- Clad Train on Duty. Railway Travelling in 
War Time. A Military Railway. Private Owners of Railways. Other 
Passengers by Railway : Horses, Cattle, etc. Legal Definition of a 

Pig. A Lap Dog. A Tiger. Fish Traf- 
fic. Milk Traffic. A Goods Station at 
1^=^ Night. Coal Traffic. 

!HE legal historian records a re- 
markable judicial opinion. It 
appears that some years ago a 
witness observed that he had on 
a certain occasion examined the 
pages of " Bradshaw's Guide" for 
some twenty consecutive minutes ; 
whereupon the judge declared that 
the evidence of such a person must not be relied upon that he 
was a fit subject for a commission de lunatico inquirendo. We 
are so unfortunate as to differ from the learned gentleman. We 
are of opinion that one of the most valuable, if one of the most 
unconnected, periodicals issued from the monthly press, is that 
which bears the name of Bradshaw, and that it contains data 
which even the statesman, the philosopher, and the humorist 
may ponder. The name itself is suggestive. " Some men," it 

The initial letter represents a temporary over-bridge. 


has been said, " are born to greatness, others achieve greatness, 
and others have greatness thrust upon them ; " and to one of 
these orders of fame we must assign a position for the author of 
the work in question. It is something to leave behind us a title 
which posterity will ponder ; it must be more to win contempo- 
raneous renown ; what must it not be to write our name upon 
both the present and the future literature of our country ? To 
insert his name in the almanacks of his empire was an honour 
Julius Caesar laboured to deserve, and Augustus intrigued to 
share. But to make one's name a necessity in the language of 
our country, and every month to have it proclaimed and re- 
proclaimed amid the busiest haunts of men, must be a triumph 
the Caesars never won. Sneering critics may extinguish ambi- 
tious enemies by the mere use of an indefinite article, when they 
recount that " a Mr. So-and-so then addressed the meeting;" 
but that which is the marring of one man may be the making of 
another ; the insertion of the article may turn a surname into a 
noun, and be the means of spreading it on every side and of 
handing it down to coming centuries. Thus our reader may 
muse, in mood more grave or gay, when he next stands at a 
railway book-stall and buys " a Bradshaw" 

But though month by month tens of thousands peruse the 
pages of this most popular of all the monthlies, even fame so 
great is not without alloy. Ill-natured people declare that the 
volume is as unintelligible as a book of logarithms to a school- 
girl, and that its study is as exacting a mental toil as the mas- 
tery of the integral calculus. Still we venture to think that 
after all there may be something worth pondering in a sixpenny 
" Bradshaw," something that deserves the scrutiny even of 
gentlemen who can talk by the hour about the currency, who 
can revel in a " price current " that informs us that bones were 
" inanimate," and that " calves moved off heavily," and who can 
grow eloquent over the provincial politics of a town council's 
balance sheet. 

It is not long since our journeyings were regulated, not by 
a volume that contains nearly half a million items, but by a 
few coachmen's " way-bills." It is not long since as Mr. Oliver 
Heywood remarked at the opening of the Eccles, Tyldesley, 
and Wigan line that railway passengers "had to give their 
names, and spell them, in order to their being written on a large 


green paper ticket ; when between Liverpool and Manchester 
there was a long stay at Newton in order that passengers might 
refresh themselves with Eccles cakes ; and when ' a guide ' to 
the line to London cost five shillings, with a cheap edition at 
half a crown." Nor are we aware of any better means by which 
to give vividness to our conception of the greatness of this 
peaceful revolution than to hold in our hand a time-table as it 
was years ago and as it is to-day. 

The " Railway Companion," as it was then called, was less 
than half the size of a page of " Bradshaw," and contained only 
about six leaves of railway information. Some cab fares, some 
little plans of towns, and maps of the counties through which 
the railways ran, were added. The book was enclosed in a 
cloth cover, upon which was a small gold label, and it was sold 
for a shilling. Subsequently two editions of the " Guide " were 
published at threepence and sixpence ; these have grown in 
their proportions with the growth of what is called by courtesy 
" our railway system," until we have now a volume of hundreds 
of pages, telling us of the movements of the thousands of 
passenger trains that daily run along our great iron thorough- 
fares, or wind their course along the innumerable byeways that 
cross and re-cross the land. 

But besides the " Bradshaw " of the book-stall, there are 
other railway guides that tell of the working of particular rail- 
ways : the official productions of the editorial departments of 
the companies themselves. It is not enough to run trains, and 
to run them safely and punctually at convenient times ; it is 
also necessary that the public should have adequate and 
accurate information thereon ; and the labour and care thus 
involved, directly and indirectly, is greater than is generally 

There is, firstly, the official time-table of the passenger 
trains. In the arrangement of these, various considerations have 
to be regarded. The seasons, the earnings of the train service 
already in operation, the growth of trades or of towns, the 
changes contemplated by neighbouring companies, the sugges- 
tions made to or by officers of the company all are carefully 
considered, and are embodied in a report that is submitted 
to the general manager, and afterwards to the directors. This 
report being sanctioned, the new proof-sheets are prepared, the 


corrections being marked, sometimes to the number of scores 
on a page, on one of the current time-tables ; and then every 
item is finally reconsidered, to see that there are no mistakes 
or omissions, or clashing of arrangements of trains that should 
meet at junctions or with other companies. Meanwhile, in 
another department the runnings of goods and mineral trains 
also are determined ; it being understood that, in all cases, the 
passenger trains have the preference. The manuscripts are 
now sent to the printer, who, to avoid risk of error by resetting, 
keeps all his type, as used at the last printing, still standing ; 
the proofs returned by him are carefully checked and correctec^ 
and then a " proof time-table " is printed, and forwarded to the 
editors of all railway local time-tables. " Foreign " railway com- 
panies now send in any alterations they propose, and these have 
to be compared with and adjusted so that the through traffic of 
each company concerned may work harmoniously. All being 
settled, and the necessary corrections being made, the official 
time-tables are ordered to be printed. For the Midland Railway 
Company 33,000 to 35,000 are required ; more in summer- 
when they are also larger in size than in winter ; and all are 
ready about nine days before the end of the month. 

Copies are now sent to all the stations on the system for use 
or sale ; and some thousands are despatched by post to prin- 
cipal hotels and to certain business houses in all parts of the 
kingdom. The price at which they are sold is id. ; their cost of 
production is at least 4^. 

Meanwhile other departments of the editing are being actively 
pushed forward. The times for the running of goods and mineral 
tains have been considered ; the alterations required to suit 
the changes in the passenger trains have been determined ; and, 
as the outcome of all, the " Working Time-Table," as it is called, 
for the use of the company's servants, is prepared and com- 
pleted. This is a remarkable production. The copy that lies 
before us is a volume of more than 400 octavo pages. It gives 
particulars of every train passengers, goods, and minerals 
(except excursions and specials) that runs ; and it states not only 
the times at which each train stops at an intermediate station, 
but also (in smaller figures) the time when it is due to pass 
other stations. It mentions where shunting engines will work, 
and when and where express goods will be marshalled ; it 


classifies certain goods and mineral trains ; and it gives the 
maximum dimensions allowed for a wagon-load on " foreign " 
lines. The page open before us deals with a couple of hours' 
morning traffic between Nottingham and Clay Cross ; and we 
observe by the figures at the top of the columns that sixty-three 
trains have already run since the day began; before it ends 
the number will be 157; the list of which occupies twelve 
full octavo pages, and from Clay Cross to Nottingham twelve 
pages more. In some other directions the line is even more 
busy, and the time-table is more voluminous. From Normanton 
to Skipton, for instance, in the twenty-four hours of the day 
200 trains are run ; they fill nearly fourteen pages of the time- 
table, and there are 200 more trains the other way. This 
working book is divisible into several sections the last being 
"City and Suburbs of London," and every driver, guard, signal- 
man, and platelayer, and every other outdoor member of the 
staff, is supplied with at least that section that covers the ground 
to which his duty relates. These books are issued a week before 
they come into operation, that the men may have time to inform 
themselves of the changes that are impending. A signalman, 
for instance, wants to know what goods trains are to be shunted 
at his post ; a guard has to inform himself of the first station 
at which he must be ready to stop and to deliver his parcels ; 
and a driver learns where, for the future, his train is to be pulled 
up. An acknowledgment that the men supplied with these 
books have actually received them is in every case insisted 
upon, and an official record is preserved of the fact. 

Besides the working table, there is also its " Appendix." The 
instructions in this were formerly included in the previous ; but 
it was found that while much of the information of the latter 
was liable to changes, there was much that was permanent, and 
that each might be treated separately. Hence the " Appendix." 
The Midland appendix contains more than 150 pages octavo. 
It mentions all the distinctive whistles to be sounded by drivers 
on approaching the different junctions, particulars which fill forty 
pages ; it states what are the head, tail, and side lamps to be 
carried ; it gives instructions for the use of the continuous 
brakes ; the regulations for the working of the block system ; 
the loads for engines on different gradients ; and a Jhousand 
other necessary details. 

c c 


But the editorial work is not yet completed. The working 
-time-table and its appendix deal only with ordinary trains at 
ordinary times. The excursion trains need specially to be 
considered, and special instructions have from time to time to 
be issued concerning them. There are excursions and excur- 
sions. Some are run by the company, and are duly announced 
by advertisement ; others are ordered by schools, clubs, societies ; 
and others by private or public bodies. The pages of the 
working time-table of excursion trains, from May 2Oth to May 
28th inclusive, run from 280 to 317 ; and each page contains 
instructions about three or four such trains. The week follow- 
ing is from May 2/th to June 3rd, covering Whitsuntide, and 
its pages continue from 318 to 430; and they describe the 
working of upwards of 500 special excursion trains on all parts 
of the Midland system, all of which have to be kept clear of 
the ordinary passenger trains. Before the year closes this time- 
table of excursion trains alone will have swollen into a book of 
1,300 or 1,400 pages. Besides all these larger books there are, 
perhaps, a dozen small ones to be provided for local use in the 
great centres of the system. 

The posters, also for the official use of the Company, are 
prepared in this department. There are great bills with blue 
lines at the top, representing the running of the main line trains ; 
there are thirty or forty printed on two or three different 
colours, which state the working of the fast and express trains 
to and from some one great town and London ; and there are 
those printed on card that mention simply the trains that run 
to and from particular stations Derby, Birmingham, or Notting- 
ham, for instance to every other part of the system and beyond. 

The work thus involved in preparing (to say nothing of the 
printing) and despatching these productions to their destina- 
tions is considerable. Most of them travel as parcels ; three 
or four cab-loads may go by post. The editors of some 350 
private local time-tables generally send back copies of their 
productions to the company's office in acknowledgment of the 
official copy previously received. When critically examined, it 
must be allowed that these are not always infallible, though 
many of them are excellent. 

At the editorial office of the Midland Company, nearly thirty 
clerks are employed on these and other duties. " It means at 


times," said one of them, " a lot of day and night work. The 
pressure at the last is terrific." 

Having referred to the literary aspects of passenger and 
other railway locomotion, we may turn to the practical. In 
doing so we may venture to repeat that the worst forms of 
railway travelling for the poorest third-class passenger are in- 
comparably better than the best methods for even the rich of 
former days. There is now no clambering over dirty wheels 
no hurting^one's shins on sharp irons no wedging of one's self 
amidst piles of luggage on a lofty unsheltered platform, around 
which numerous legs hung dangling like a dozen brace of black 
and brown grouse ; no necessity for one's comfort that the drip 
of our umbrella should be turned into a neighbour's neck. It 
is at the same time a pleasant thought to many, that, while the 
train bowls along over the iron road, there is no plying of the 
whip, there are no foaming mouths, no turgid veins of generous 
steeds ; the giant power that bears us swiftly onwards has bone^ 
of brass and iron, and nerves and muscles that cannot tire. 

We will, however, frankly allow that some of the charms of 
our earlier railway travelling have been withdrawn. When the 
first London railway that to Greenwich was opened for traffic, 
it was exhibited as a show, and special attractions were employed 
to make it " draw." " A band of musicians in the garb of the 
Beefeaters was stationed at the London end, and another band 
at Deptford. For cheapness' sake the Deptford band was shortly 
superseded by a large barrel-organ, which ' played in ' the pas- 
sengers ; but when the traffic became established, the barrel- 
organ, as well as the Beefeater band at the London end, were 
both discontinued. The whole length of the line was lit up at 
night by a row of lamps on either side, like a street, as if to 
enable the locomotives or the passengers to see their way in 
the dark ; but these lamps also were eventually discontinued 
as unnecessary. As a show, the Greenwich Railway proved 
tolerably successful. During the first eleven months it carried 
456,750 passengers, or an average of about 1,300 a day." 

It may seem paradoxical, but nevertheless it is true, that the 
most important travellers, those who are the most numerous, 
and who best support the railways, are the third-class passengers. 
Only gradually has this fact been learned by the companies and 
by the public. It is only a few years since the parliamentary 


trains were run in bare fulfilment of the obligations of Parlia- 
ment, and when a journey by one of them could never be looked 
upon as anything better than a necessary evil. To start in the 
darkness of a winter's morning to catch the only third-class 
train that ran ; to sit, after a slender breakfast, in a vehicle the 
windows of which were compounded of the largest amount of 
wood and the smallest amount of glass, carefully adjusted to 
exactly those positions in which the fewest travellers could see 
out ; to stop at every roadside station, however insignificant ; 
and to accomplish a journey of 200 miles in about ten hours 
such were the ordinary conditions which Parliament in its bounty 
provided for the people. When the first edition of this work 
was issued, we called attention to what were then regarded as 
great improvements, then recently provided, for third-class 
travellers. The London and North Western Company, we 
remarked, is now running "a train of third-class carriages, 
covered in, with side-doors and seats, which starts from the 
metropolis every morning between six and seven o'clock, and 
arrives at Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds the same evening 
travelling at an average speed of fifteen miles an hour, including 
stoppages ; but when in motion, at twenty-five, to avoid the 
danger of being overrun by other trains. On its arrival at 
Blisworth, sixty-three miles from London, it is detained an hour 
and a half, to allow the mail and three other quick trains to pass, 
and for the purpose of warming and refreshing the passengers, 
for whom a large and commodious room is provided. Another 
half-hour is allowed at Birmingham and Derby. The object of 
these stoppages is, in fact, chiefly to prevent the use of the 
train by those for whom it is not intended. A similar arrange- 
ment is made by an up train for the people of the north." 

In the course of years a few further meagre concessions were 
made ; but still the speed of trains that carried third-class 
passengers was slow ; neither through tickets nor through 
journeys could be taken ; and travellers had to get forward as 
best they could by a series of fragmentary journeys over the 
lines of different, rival, and often conflicting companies. Thirty 
years ago a third-class passenger from London to Liverpool had 
to spend two days on the journey ; and a second-class passenger 
from London to Liverpool had to stop at Birmingham for the 
night, or else to proceed by first class at first-class fare. " We 


remember," says a writer, " once standing on the platform at 
Darlington when the parliamentary train arrived. It was de- 
tained for a considerable time to allow a more favoured train to 
pass, and on the remonstrance of several of the passengers at 
the unexpected detention, they were coolly informed, * Ye mun 
bide till yer betters gaw past ; ye are only the nigger train.' " 

At last came a revolution. On the last day of March, 1872, 
we remarked to a friend : " To-morrow morning the Midland 
will be the most popular railway in England." Nor did we 
incur much risk by our prediction. For on that day the Board 
at Derby had decided that on and after the 1st of April they 
would run third-class carriages by all trains ; the wires had 
flashed the tidings to the newspapers ; the bills were in the 
hands of the printers, and on the following morning the direc- 
tors woke to find themselves famous, not perhaps in the esti- 
mation of railway competitors, but in the opinions of millions 
of their fellow-countrymen who felt that a mighty boon had 
been conferred upon the poor of the land. This step had, we 
believe, long been in contemplation, and in deciding to adopt 
it the Board had had to prepare for what some expected would 
be a serious sacrifice of revenue ; but reasons of high policy won 
the day, and tens of millions of passengers who have since been 
borne swiftly and comfortably over the land have been grateful 
that instead of the narrowness and greed so commonly and 
often so unjustly attributed to railway administration, a states- 
manlike and philanthropic temper has prevailed and triumphed.* 

" If there is one part of my public life," Mr. Allport has said, 
" on which I look back with more satisfaction than on anything 
else, it is with reference to the boon we conferred on third-class 
passengers. When the rich man travels, or if he lies in bed all 
day, his capital remains undiminished, and perhaps his income 
flows in all the same. But when a poor man travels, he has not 
only to pay his fare but to sink his capital, for his time is his 
capital ; and if he now consumes only five hours instead of ten 
in making a journey, he has saved five hours of time for useful 
labour useful to himself, to his family, and to society. And 
I think with even more pleasure of the comfort in travelling 
i^e have been able to confer upon women and children. But it 

* " The Midland Railway : its Rise and Progress." 


took," he added, " five-and-twenty years' work to get it done.*' 
It is a happy circumstance when the hard realities of railway 
administration are thus tempered by a spirit so humanitarian 
and elevated. 

That the concessions thus made to the needs of the public 
have been justified, the following figures will prove. In 1850, 
passengers of all classes in England were in number 58,000,000, 
and the receipts were less than ;6, 000,000; in 1880, the pas- 
sengers were 540,000,000, and the receipts from them were 
20,000,000. The number of passengers had multiplied about 
nine times, and the receipts had multiplied between three and 
four times ; and the notable fact is that the greater part of all 
this enormous increase of railway traffic is due to the third-class 
passengers. In 1850 the third-class passengers were nearly 
equal in number to the two other classes put together ; since 
then the increase of the two classes has gone on at a slow rate, 
while that of the third class now numbers five times as many 
as those of the first and second classes combined. Mr. Allport 
says : "From 1862 to 1871, or nine years preceding the change 
of carrying third-class passengers by all trains, the passenger 
receipts per mile on railways open increased 4*31 per cent, and 
they increased nine years after the change 15*69 per cent." No 
wonder that the Times, remarking upon these facts, said : " The 
third-class traffic of railways grows and grows till it overshadows 
all the rest of their passenger business." The Railway News also 
thus writes : " Take the last decennial period as an illustration. 
The number of passengers has increased on the railways from 
337 millions to 626 millions. But this increase of 289 millions 
is actually less than the increase in third class alone. These 
have risen from 228 millions in 1870 to 523 millions last year 
an increase of not less than 295 millions." 

In 1 88 1 the returns were, on the railways of the United King- 
dom, exclusive of season and periodical tickets, as follows : 

ist Class . 

Total . 

of passengers. 



. 52Q,579> 126 





* Holders of season or periodical tickets an average of a year each. 


" One would have thought," said the Quarterly Review, " from 
the pride taken by railway people in their express trains, that 
it #as these that paid the dividend. Everything must give 
way to them. Coal and goods trains are shunted parlia- 
mentary trains are drawn into sidings and signals are manned 
to clear the road and signal it 'all clear' for the 'down' or 
' up express.' Chairmen are almost ready to weep when they 
hear of an accident befalling them. Yet it is even doubtful 
whether, in many cases, the express defrays the cost of working 
it, while the speed at which it runs increases all the elements of 
danger in travelling by railway." These fast trains to use the 
words of Mr. Hawkshaw " run the gauntlet through goods 
trains, coal trains, and cattle trains." To keep out of the way 
of the fast trains, the goods and coal trains are run with light 
loads and at high speeds, thereby occasioning great wear and 
tear of road and rolling stock, and increase in the working 
expenses. Passengers in first-class carriages, too, have their 
costly peculiarities. They expect not only a seat for them- 
selves, but another for their feet. Some regularly fee the 
porters or guards, " paying the tribute known at railway sta- 
tions by the name of 'fluff/ to reserve a compartment for 
themselves. Others, solitarily disposed persons, fill up vacant 
seats with their wrappers and carpet-bags, so that the first-class 
compartments are rarely more than half filled." " You will find," 
remarked Mr. Sheriff, M.P., a railway authority, "if there are 
half a dozen first-class compartments, half a dozen persons will 
immediately take a single place in each, and there will be a 
great outcry if anything like five or six people are put in." 

Another source of waste in running fast trains has been 
described by Mr. Stewart, then Secretary of the London and 
North Western Company : " When there are only three or four 
passengers for a place, a through carriage must be provided for 
them. There must be a carriage put on for the Buckingham- 
shire line, another for the Bedford line, another for the North- 
ampton line, another for Leamington, and so on ; so that, apart 
altogether from the feeing of porters, there is a great waste." 
In illustration of this statement, Mr. Stewart stated that on two 
days selected as a fair average, whilst 4,482 passengers were 
booked from Euston Square, the trains to accommodate them 
contained 13,512 seats. "Thousands, nay millions of miles are 


run," said Professor Gordon some years ago, and it is true to- 
day, " by locomotives and carriages whilst they are performing 
an amount of transport preposterously disproportioned to the 
power and capacity of the trains employed for effecting it." The 
average number of persons carried per mile at that time by all 
the trains in the United Kingdom for which the returns were 
made up was only thirty-two, or four more than the full com- 
plement of an omnibus. " Engines of 300 or 400 horse power, 
weighing thirty to forty tons, with carriages behind them weigh- 
ing equally as much, are set to draw about half a dozen more 
passengers than could be taken in an omnibus, and who might 
be easily, though not so quickly, of course, drawn upon the line 
with a single horse," 

An important class of trains are known as "workmen's 
trains." In the recent report of the Select Committee of the 
House of Commons appointed to consider the working of the 
Acts relating to artisans' and labourers' dwellings, there is a 
recommendation "that the obligation placed upon the Eastern 
Counties system of railways out of London to provide trains for 
artisans at the rate of id. for each passenger per course of seven 
or eight miles should be extended to other suburban railways 
as opportunities may offer." This is, doubtless, in the interest 
of the class referred to, an excellent suggestion, but for some 
of the railway companies it might involve serious practical diffi- 
culties. Many of the railway companies, besides the Great 
Eastern, already grant special facilities for working men to live 
in the suburbs. The Chatham Company, for instance, runs 
workmen's trains to and from Victoria or Ludgate Hill or any 
intermediate station on their metropolitan extension line : from 
Penge three trains, Sydenham Hill three, Dulwich three, and 
Herne Hill three. The fare by these workmen's trains for a 
double journey between Victoria and Ludgate is 2d. y and a 
return ticket is is. a week. Many of these trains carry from 
700 to 800 passengers. It is, of course, highly desirable that 
the home life of the working classes should thus be improved ; 
but while there is no difficulty in running special working-men's 
trains early in the morning, this involves the necessity of the 
same number of passengers being carried back to their homes 
in the evening, at the time when the company's ordinary traffic 
is at its heaviest. The consequence often is that the workmen, 


when returning, crowd out of the trains a much more remunera- 
tive class of traffic ; and that the company is a pecuniary loser 
thereby. The Parliamentary Committee appointed in 1872 to 
inquire into the amalgamation of railways recognised the right 
of the companies to some consideration for their attempts to 
improve the condition of the lower classes, and suggested that 
" where the municipality of a town desires the running of work- 
men's trains, it should be enabled to guarantee to the company 
a certain amount of traffic." 

Special arrangements are made by railway companies for the 
convenience of other special classes of the community. Social 
Science and British Association Assemblies, Church Congresses, 
Wesleyan Conferences, etc., are all considered, and even the 
sport of fox-hunting is not overlooked. When railways were 
first proposed, country gentlemen became greatly alarmed about 
the dangers with which their favourite sports were threatened. 
It was asserted that, there being no longer any use for horses, 
they would become extinct, and oats and hay would be rendered 
unsaleable. " But railroads," says Mr. Anthony Trollope, " have 
done so much for hunting that they may almost be said to have 
created the sport anew on a wider and much more thoroughly 
organized footing than it ever held before." Trains are now 
arranged to take hunting men from the large cities ; and 
hunters walk in and out of their railway boxes as quietly as 
though they were holders of season tickets. 

The latest developments of railway passenger locomotion 
are in some respects the best. Many years ago Sir Samuel 
Morland constructed for himself a coach with a sort of movable 
kitchen, so fitted with clockwork machinery that he could broil 
steaks, roast a joint of meat, and make soup as he travelled 
along the road. This ingenious gentleman was made a baronet 
by Charles II., and died at a good old age, so that good food 
by the way did not appear to have shortened his life. " But 
then it must be remembered that he travelled in his coach and 
saw what was to be seen as he went along. Flying through a 
country, arriving only to depart and departing only to arrive, 
appears to be exactly the course of training to prepare an 
average man to have said of him what was said of one by 
Humboldt: 'This man has gone farther and seen Jess than 
anybody I ever met.' " Still, to be able to eat and even to sleep 


on a long journey is, frequently, an enormous boon to the 
traveller. For such a journey by day, the new twin day 
saloon of the London and North Western between London and 
Liverpool is excellent. The two saloons for ladies and gentle- 
men are connected by a covered gangway two feet wide, along 
which the attendant can pass. The length of each saloon is 
thirty-four feet ; and the height from the rail at the side is ten 
feet eight inches. There are six wheels to each saloon. The 
under frame is of oak, and the sides are plated with steel. 
The total weight of each saloon in running order is about 
fourteen tons ; the passenger accommodation is for eighteen 
ladies and twenty-one gentlemen. The saloons are fitted with 
electrical communication, and with hot-water heating apparatus. 

The Great Northern, Company, also has recently begun to run 
a "dining-car" between King's Cross and Leeds, and the comfort 
of this mode of passing the time appears to be appreciated by 
passengers. The Midland Company, too, which was the first 
to place Pullman cars on English lines, runs a " dining saloon 
car" between Liverpool, Manchester, and London. The first 
train of this series consisted of three Pullman cars. It left St. 
Pancras at 2.5 p.m., and was timed to reach Leicester at 4.19 
p.m. One of the cars was the ordinary Pullman drawing-room 
carriage ; another the dining-room car ; the third was a smaller 
but handsomely fitted car, run expressly for the occasion. On 
the middle car was a complete little cooking stove, capable of 
providing a dinner for forty persons. 

The Pullman limited expresses on the London and Brighton 
seem to provide almost the perfection of travelling arrangements. 
Instead of their being ordinary trains with one or two or more 
Pullman cars attached, all the carriages are on the Pullman plan, 
and they are so coupled that the officials in charge can walk from 
one end of the train to the other. " Entering it," says a traveller, 
"you enter a mansion on wheels. You can roam about from 
parlour to drawing-room, dining-room, and smoking-room. The 
ladies have also a boudoir. Servants are at your call by electric 
bell ; but you need not call for light or fire. A pleasant and 
equable temperature is maintained by hot- water pipes, and light- 
ing up is done before there is time to demand it. No sooner do 
you enter a tunnel than the bright but soft and equal light of 
the Edison electric lamp is shed all over the compartments. 


It noiselessly comes at the moment it is needed, and is as 
quietly gone when the need for it is over. It beats the good 
fairy of nursery lore, for it needs no summons. It is with you 
before you can as much as think of a wishing cap, and it is it- 
self a magic lamp." With this train service Brighton may well 
come to be more appropriately than ever considered as London- 

At night the whole train is lighted by electricity. "The 
steady soft white light of the incandescent carbon threads in the 
little sealed glass lamps these tiny horseshoes, burning but not 
consumed were approved, admired, acclaimed. To read by 
them was a pleasure. There were thirty lights in the train ; 
none gave a less brilliant light than another ; and any one light 
could be put out without the others being affected. The light 
came from thirty-four of Faure's accumulators in the guard's 
compartment. These magazines of electricity had been filled 
at the Strand, but they will hereafter be charged by an engine 
and dynamo machine at Victoria Station." A proposal has 
been considered for making the train store up electricity for 
itself by the working of a dynamo machine attached to the axle 
of the engine. 

Arrangements are now contemplated for the running of 
sleeping cars from Paris to Vienna and back. There should 
be no more difficulty in this than in travelling from New York 
to San Francisco by " lightning express in Pullman cars," carry- 
ing all that is wanted with them. And if through traffic with 
sleeping and eating cars, so that one literally lives on board, 
can be made successful, the plan may be extended beyond 
Vienna, on one side to Constantinople, and also to Calais, 
Cologne, and Bologna. For all this, like the perfect river 
steamer, we are indebted to institutions of purely American 
growth. When long journeys are to be made without stopping, 
and eating and drinking are to be done in the train, the long 
car is indispensable. 

One of the effects, we will not say advantages, of travelling in 
a long car may be to promote sociability. "An American," 
says a St. Louis paper, in an article on native politeness, " may 
not be so elegant at a dinner party, but he will not ride half a 
day in a railway car without speaking to the fellow-passenger 
at his elbow, as the Englishman will." "No," remarks an 


American critic, " indeed he will not : 'fore George he will not 
How often, oh, how often, have we wished that he would ! But 
he won't He will pounce upon a stranger whom he has never 
seen before in all his life, and talk him deaf, dumb, and blind in 
fifty miles. Catch an American holding his mouth shut when 
he has a chance to talk to some man who doesn't want to be 
talked to." 

But sociability in Pullman cars may, especially under certain 
circumstances, take more demonstrative forms. "I have never," 
observes another traveller, "got so well acquainted with the 
passengers on the train as I did the other day on the Milwaukee 
and St. Paul Railroad. We were going at the rate of about 
thirty miles an hour, and another train from the other direction 
telescoped us. We were all thrown into each other's society, 
and brought into immediate social contact, so to speak. I went 
over and sat in the lap of a corpulent lady from Manitoba, and 
a girl from Chicago jumped over nine seats and sat down on 
the plug hat of a preacher from La Crosse, with so much timid, 
girlish enthusiasm that it shoved his hat clear down over his 
shoulders. Everybody seemed to lay aside the usual cool 
reserve of strangers, and we made ourselves entirely at home. 
A shy young man, with an emaciated oil-cloth valise, left his 
own seat and went over and sat down in a lunch basket, where 
a bridal couple seemed to be wrestling with their first picnic. 
Do you suppose that reticent young man would have done such 
a thing on ordinary occasions ? Do you think if he had been at 
a celebration at home that he would have risen impetuously and 
gone where those people were eating by themselves, and sat 
down in the cranberry jelly of a total stranger? I should rather 
think not Why, one old man, who probably at home led the 
class-meeting, and who was as dignified as Roscoe Conkling's 
father, was eating a piece of custard pie when we met the other 
train, and he left his own seat and went over to the other end of 
the car and shot that piece of custard pie into the ear of a beau- 
tiful widow from Iowa. People travelling somehow forget the 
austerity of their home lives, and form acquaintances that some- 
times last through life." 

What may be perhaps regarded as the perfection of railway 
travelling in the world is attained under the arrangements for the 
passage of the royal train, when, for instance, the Queen goes to 


or from Scotland. The train is fitted throughout with continu- 
ous brakes, with an electrical communication between the com- 
partments of each saloon and carnage and the guards, and with 
a communication between the guards and the driver. A pilot 
engine is run fifteen minutes in advance of the train throughout 
the journey, and in order to guard against any obstruction or in- 
terference with the safe passage of the train, no engine except the 
pilot, or any train or vehicle, is allowed to proceed upon or cross 
the main line and stations during an interval of at least thirty 
minutes before the time at which the royal train is appointed to 
pass, all shunting operations on the adjoining lines being sus- 
pended during the same period ; while after the royal train has 
passed no engine or train is permitted to leave a station or siding 
upon the same line for at least fifteen minutes. In addition to 
these regulations, no light engines or trains, except passenger 
trains, are allowed to travel between any two stations on the oppo- 
site line of rails to that on which the royal train is running from 
the time the pilot is due until the royal train has passed. Every 
level crossing, farm crossing, and station, is specially guarded, to 
prevent trespassers ; and all facing points over which the pilot 
and royal train have to travel are securely bolted. Platelayers 
are also posted along the line to prevent the possibility of any 
impediment at the occupation road-crossings. 

Some passengers, we may add, are eccentric in their ideas 
of locomotion. Not long ago, on the arrival of the 3.15 Irish 
mail at Chester platform, a man was found lying underneath 
a carriage. He was grasping the brake-rod with his legs and 
hands, and in order to hold the rod securely, he had some flan- 
nel in his hands. He had ridden in this way from Holyhead 
to Chester, nearly ninety miles. How he escaped death was a 
marvel. He was sentenced to pay twenty shillings, or to have 
twenty-one days' hard labour. 

Another passenger, of an adventurous order of mind, desired 
a similarly cheap and airy ride from Euston to Liverpool. His 
name was John Smith, and he was described as " a seafaring man 
respectably attired." It appeared from the evidence, and indeed 
from Mr. Smith's own admission, that on the previous night he 
left the Euston station by an express train at nine p.m., which, 
travelling at a high rate of speed, does not stop until it reaches 
Rugby at eleven p.m., a distance of 82 J miles. "Mr. Smith did 


not take his seat like an ordinary passenger inside any of the 
carriages, but he travelled underneath one of them, and would, 
no doubt, have concluded his journey to Liverpool in safety, but 
that on the arrival of the train at Rugby the wheel-examiner, 
seeing a man's legs protruding from under one of the carriages, 
had the curiosity to make further search, and discovered Mr. 
Smith coiled round the brake-rod, a piece of iron not above 
three inches broad, in a fantastic position. Mr. Smith was im- 
mediately uncoiled, and being technically in error was detained 
in custody. The bottom of the carriage was only eighteen 
inches from the ground, and where the engine takes up water as 
it travels, Mr. Smith was not more than six inches from the 
trough ; he therefore had not far to fall in case of a casualty ; 
but the bench, surprised at a railway passenger under any cir- 
cumstances having survived a journey of eighty-two miles, said 
' it was a miracle he was not killed,' and let him off with a fine 
of 2s. 6d. and costs, or fourteen days' imprisonment. Mr. Smith 
stated that his journey 'was not a very comfortable one/ " a 
remark the accuracy of which however on other matters we 
may differ from him may be conceded.* 

It has usually been understood that the line of demarcation 
between passenger traffic and goods was in the nature of things 
sufficiently plain. It has been left to the ingenuity of an Ameri- 
can to endeavour to confound these distinctions. An " old and 
well-known citizen" of Chicago, of "an eccentric and jocular dis- 
position," lately conceived the brilliant idea of boxing himself 
up, and obtaining transportation to Philadelphia as merchandise. 
He was informed by the agent of the Adams Express Company, 
to whom he announced his intention, that no objection would 
be raised to his travelling to Philadelphia in a box, but that he 
would have to pay passenger fare. Mr. M'Auley declared, how- 
ever, that he would go as merchandise, and would pay no more 
than 2 dols. 50 c. per cwt. Accordingly, he packed himself up 
in a box with a week's provisions by his side, and was taken by 
an expressman to the railway office. The box was 18 in. wide, 
6 ft. long, hooped with iron bands, and fastened by a padlock. 
It was addressed to "Miss Kisselman, Philadelphia," and the 
agent was told that it contained flowers. On the same night 

* Pall Mall Gazelle. 


the box was forwarded to its destination, the charges having 
been prepaid. At an early hour on the following morning the 
real nature of the contents of the box was discovered by a rail- 
way guard, and when the train stopped at Van West, Ohio, Mr. 
M'Auley was taken out of his box, put into gaol, and in the 
evening was "shipped home," having had a narrow escape of 
being shot by the guard as a train robber. He states that on an 
early occasion he intends to try the question again. 

Among the episodes of travelling experiences may be men- 
tioned one from the pen of a lively journalist. " Maybe," he 
says, " a man feels happy, and proud, and flattered, and envied, 
and blessed among men when he sees a pretty girl trying to 
raise a window on a railway car, and he jumps up and gets in 
ahead of the other boys, and says, ' Allow me ? ' oh, so courte- 
ously. And she says, ' Oh, if you please, I would be so glad,' 
and the other male passengers turn green with envy, and he 
leans over the back of the seat and tackles the window in a 
knowing way with one hand, if peradventure he may toss it airily 
with a simple turn of the wrist ; but it kind of holds on, and he 
takes hold with both hands, but it sort of doesn't let go to any 
alarming extent, and then he pounds it with his fist, but it only 
seems to settle a ' leetle ' closer into place, and then he comes 
around, and she gets out of the seat to give him a fair chance, 
and he grapples the window and bows up his back, and tugs, and 
pulls, and sweats, and grunts, and strains, and his hat falls off, 
and his suspender buttons fetch loose, and his vest-buckle parts, 
and his face gets red, and his feet slip, and people laugh, and 
irreverent young men in remote seats grunt and groan every 
time he lifts, and cry out, ' Now, then, all together ! ' as if in 
mockery, and he busts his collar at the forward button ; and the 
pretty young lady, vexed at having been made so conspicuous, 
says, in her iciest manner, ' Oh, never mind ; thank you ! It 
doesn't make any difference,' and then calmly goes away and 
sits down in another seat ; and that wearied man gathers himself 
together, and tries to read a book upside down." 

Passengers are often grievously careless of their own lives or 
limbs, or of those of others. This is especially the case on the 
Metropolitan railways. People may be seen jumping out of 
every train that arrives before it has stopped, and when it is 
moving at a high rate of speed. This is, of course, 'done to 


save time ; but were they to reflect how short a time they 
save, and what risk they run in doing it, we cannot but think 
they would hesitate before taking the chance of paying so high 
a price for so small an advantage. Indeed, it frequently hap- 
pens that they gain nothing at all, for when the exit gate of a 
station is at the engine end of a train as at the Mansion House 
and many other places, the person who waits in a carriage till 
the train has come to a stand, as a rule gets to the gate before 
another who leaves the same carriage when the train is in 
motion. "A constant, I may say an almost weekly, cause of 
accident," says the chairman of a railway, " sometimes a daily 
cause, is that of people falling from getting out of the trains 
while they are in motion. We do everything we possibly can to 
caution people against so dangerous a practice. People forget 
with a body like a train weighing 200 or 300 tons, and with an 
immense amount of accumulated momentum, that if it is only 
going at one or two miles an hour, and the foot of the passenger 
is partly on the platform and partly in the carriage, there must 
be a serious and dangerous fall ; and we find I hope I shall 
not be scolded for stating the fact the fact is, for one man who 
gets hurt from this unfortunate habit of getting out of the trains 
while they are in motion, five women get hurt." * 

Nor do persons acting thus confine the chance of accident to 
themselves alone. An approaching train on the Metropolitan 
has one especially dangerous feature the array of doors which 
fly open from the carriages as they emerge from the tunnel, in 
readiness for one or more of the occupants to jump out. These 
doors, being open while the train is running, form so many 
battering-rams, each ready to strike down those who, from want 
of knowledge or by accident, may be within its reach, and throw 
them possibly under the train, or, at all events, violently on to 
the platform. The danger does not cease here, for even if 
people at the station, aware of the effect of a blow from one of 
these doors, were to keep well clear of them, they would still be 
exposed to the unsteady, staggering rush of passengers who, 
leaping from the moving train, light upon the platform with 
control over their feet and legs for the moment gone. 

Other forms of thoughtlessness on the part of passengers 

* The Globe. 


often lead to serious consequences. We are aware of the 
punishments properly inflicted on lads for throwing stones at 
running trains ; some of the occupants of these trains are 
almost equally culpable in throwing empty bottles out of trains 
This is often done from excursion trains, and even from ordi- 
nary trains. " These people," says a correspondent of a Lon- 
don paper, " often starting by an early train before their usual 
breakfast hour, are in the habit of loading their pockets with 
sandwiches and bottles of beer or diluted spirits, to eat and 
drink while they are travelling, and when the bottles are empty 
they are thrown out of the window to save the trouble of carry- 
ing them. Only the other day I was travelling up to London, 
and at nearly every station at which the train stopped pas- 
sengers might be seen bringing bottles of spirits or beer into the 
carnages from the refreshment rooms, and which when empty 
were pitched out of the window while the train was at full 
speed. I saw several bottles thus thrown, and while passing a 
bridge over a highway, a man and child had a narrow escape 
from being struck by a bottle being thus carelessly thrown, and 
which fell close behind them with very great force. I am sure 
that none of these dangerous and formidable missiles are thrown 
with the intention to do harm ; but, in passing along the coun- 
try at a rapid rate, these bottles have a dangerous velocity given 
to them which thoughtless passengers have no idea of. Espe- 
cially over populous routes, where out-door labourers are pass- 
ing and about, this practice is attended with very great danger, 
as the bottles do not fall where the passengers suppose they 

Not long ago, in eight days there were no fewer than three 
instances reported in which injury had been done by persons 
throwing bottles from trains in motion. "As the 10.10 a.m. 
train from Euston was passing Mancetter-crossing box, near 
Atherstone, a bottle was thrown from the train which broke 
two panes of glass in the box. The signalman had a narrow 
escape from injury. On the iQth of May a passenger threw a 
bottle from the 10 a.m. express train from Liverpool to London, 
when the 2.45 p.m. train from Euston was passing near Berk- 
hampstead. The bottle came in contact with the fireman's 
head, almost cutting his eye out, and the train had to be 
stopped at Berkhampstead to set him down. On the 23rd of 

D D 


May, the fireman with the 2 p.m. train from Carlisle was struck 
by a piece of glass which came from a bottle thrown out of the 
3.10p.m. train from Preston. The bottle struck the engine of 
the 2 p.m. down train, and was shivered to pieces, a piece of 
glass cutting the fireman's neck." In view of such facts, some of 
the principal railway companies have found it necessary recently 
to issue warnings on this subject to their travellers and to the 
public generally. 

The eccentricities of English travellers, however, if dangerous, 
are not so odd as some " in foreign parts." It is said that not 
long ago an engine-driver in New Zealand noticed a lady ener- 
getically waving her hand at a siding where he was not timed to 
stop. On pulling up his train she was asked if she wished to 
"come on board," when she stated that her object in stopping 
the train was to ascertain whether any passenger could give her 
change for a i note ! 

The most startling uses to which railways have recently been 
devoted are military. The first armour-plated train was used 
for the defenders of Paris in 1871 ; and latterly our Egyptian 
correspondents have recounted to us such unusual railway 
experiences as the following : " A strange excursion," writes 
'One of the Passengers,' " started a few nights ago upon the line 
which runs between Alexandria and Kafr Dowar. To say our 
party was not made up of pleasure-seekers would do scant justice 
to the gallant fellows who belonged to it. It is true that the 
members of this pleasure party were armed to the teeth, carried 
cutlasses at their waists, and Martini-Henry rifles in their hands, 
while some had revolvers in their belts, and all wore jack-knives. 
But a merrier set could not be found than my companions. 

" Grim enough was the train that waited to convey them. In 
place of cushioned carnages were hard railway .trucks, without 
seats or any other kind of comfort ; while the contents of some 
of the wagons were not precisely of that kind which is usually 
supposed to be intimately connected with pleasure-taking. 
First of all was an empty wagon with low sides, on which was 
laid a lot of railway metal ; then came a truck with sides about 
two feet high, from the front of which peered the muzzle of a 
4O-pounder Armstrong gun. Round the sides of this wagon 
were plates of iron fixed, by the care of Captain Fisher, of the 
Inflexible, so that a rifle bullet would hardly be able to pene- 


trate them, while to protect still further anybody that might 
choose to ride in the vehicle, sand bags were piled on each 
other, so that the cannon seemed to look out of a nest of them, 
so thickly were they laid and so high did they stand. Then we 
saw a truck similarly equipped, from which a Nordenfelt with 
its fan-like arrangement of barrels peered, and yet another fitted 
also with sand bags, and carrying a Q-pounder gun. Now came 
the engine covered up to the funnel with sand bags tied all 
round it, and then three more trucks all armoured like the pre- 
ceding three, and carrying two Gatling guns. Such a train had 
never been sent on a holiday excursion before. 

"Yet uninviting as was the conveyance thus placed at our 
service, the tars jumped into it with more alacrity than they 


would have even entered a Pullman saloon. What cared they 
for easy chairs and lounges, for cushions or carpets ? . . . 
We had companions. Another train, composed of really com- 
fortable carriages, was just behind ; and in it were about 700 
marines ; but the sailors did not care much for the 'jollies,' and 
wanted to be well in advance and have the fight, if there should 
be any, to themselves. 

" But the trip now really looked like business. Our aim in 
moving out was a serious one. For some days Arabi's men had 
been working on the railway line which we were about to ad- 
vance upon, pulling up the rails and running away with the 
sleepers. The 4<D-pounder on the hill above Ramleh had every 
now and then dropped a shell on to them, driving them away 
for the nonce, only to return again when they thought the 


English gunners were not looking. ... So that we fairly ex- 
pected to see a good gap made in the line, and looked forward 
to having to wait some little while during the repairs, which we 
quite expected would be the signal for a heavy shell fire from 
the enemy's lines, not quite a mile from the spot where we were 
going. Yonder, right ahead of us, lay the station at the junc- 
tion of the two lines of the Rosetta and the Cairo Railway, and 
this station we knew to be frequently occupied by Arabi's men. 
Our people had been in it once, and noted loopholes and other 
such extremely unpleasant arrangements for annoyance, and we 
quite thought there would be a party of Arabs there to dislodge, 
perhaps with a lively little fight. 

" At last we got the order to start, and on we steamed, of 
course very carefully. Nobody knew where the line might be 
mined, and although we had an empty truck in front to explode 
any little device of this kind, it was necessary to move circum- 
spectly, lest we might get into trouble unawares. The night 
was as still as though we had been the only human beings in 
the country. The stars shone out as placidly from the sky as if 
war and desolation had been in some other planet and not near 
our own. Yet every puff of the engine and every turn of the 
wheels brought us nearer to the enemy's lines, behind which lay 
hid any number of men from two to twenty thousand, and any 
number of guns, say, from ten to a hundred. Still not a shot 
was fired. . . . 

" On we went ; sometimes we stopped while an official went 
forward ; then we would go on a little way and stop again. 
Still no shell came, and still we proceeded. Our work was to 
protect a party of engineers sent to repair a piece of the line, 
and to try and get a broken-down engine on that line back to 
Alexandria, and we knew Arabi or his people could see us. 
Why did he not blaze away ? We reached the place where the 
work was to be done. No shell was yet sent against us or the 
train. Out went the engineering party from the carnage in our 
rear, taking with them the rails and sleepers in the fore part of 
our train. Away, too, went a company of marines along the 
line up to the junction station, whence, however, not a shot 
came. It was evident that we were to have no hand-to-hand 
fight. The countenances of the tars began to be sorrowful for 
the first time. 


"For an hour or more, perhaps two, the rapping and the 
picking went on, the line repairing being progressed with pretty 
rapidity, till, just as it was pronounced on the point of being 
finished, there flew a shell just over the train, screaming and 
whistling as it went far past us, right into the lake, sending the 
water around flying into the air as it burst, but doing no more 
damage than if it had been fired into the clouds and exploded 
there. Our men laughed as they got round their weapons and 
got the order to send a 4O-pounder shell into the enemy's 
camp. With a very little loss of time, for the gun had been 
trained with great accuracy on the spot which was to be aimed 
at, the weapon was prepared, the sailors stood by, and away 
went the big shell right on to the very place which had been 
indicated. Not a moment to be lost. Now we could see lights 
dancing about us, heralding a great movement, and then the 
engineers came in, saying they had done their work, and just 
then came another shell from Arabi, followed by two from us. 
Half a moment later and we had the marines all in, and then 
we began to steam back quicker than we came, for we had no 
obstacles to fear, and no mines to take notice of were to be 
apprehended, and of course all the time our guns were loaded 
once more lest the enemy should fire again. But we looked in 
vain for another mark of his attention. The dark lines of land 
which indicated his position had suddenly ceased to give any 
evidence of life ; no more lights were to be seen ; no more 
flashes of guns ; all was still." 

Again. Among the most spirited incidents of this war, the 
capture of Zagazig takes a foremost place. It was effected by 
two officers and five troopers. The rest of the corps had been 
left behind in the headlong gallop from the battle-field. " The 
little party dashed through the crowd assembled round the 
station, and there found four trains laden with soldiers with the 
steam up, and at the point of departure. They reined up in 
front of the first engine, and, with levelled pistols, ordered the 
engineer to dismount. He refused, and was at once shot ; the 
rest bolted, as did the passengers, including some pachas, whose 
luggage was taken, and thousands of troops fled across the 
country. Our cavalry came up half an hour later." 

But if the military operations of the iron-clad train were thus 
entirely satisfactory, it cannot be said that ordinary travelling 


if so it could be called on an Egyptian railway in war time was 
pleasure without alloy. One who recently passed through these 
experiences tells us that in an evil hour the spirit of investiga- 
tion induced him to go to the front by train, instead of on horse- 
back in the usual way. No one, he writes, who has not tried it 
can possibly conceive the sensation of being roasted through by 
direct fire from above, by reflected heat from below, aided by 
furnace blasts across the sandy expanse ; and the real way to 
try it is to ride from Ismailia to Kassassin the extreme front 
on the back of a quadruped. " ' Go by train,' kind friends said 
' so cool, so expeditious, so convenient. You can take boxes of 
wine and provisions for your friends in divers regiments, who 
will straightway receive you with open arms, more widely spread 
even than usual.' Happy thought. Excursion train ! Five 
minutes for refreshments every now and then. Everybody goes 
to the Derby by rail now why not to 'the front' ? At six a.m. 
the train was to start. Twenty miles in, say, three hours. 
Slower than it should be, but comfortable. Actually a first-class 
carriage formed part of the convoy, attached to the extreme 
end, away from the engine. The rest of the train was made up 
of trucks laden with multifarious stores. True, there were no 
cushions in the compartments they had been looted long ago 
for beds ; but the backs were well padded, and the general effect 
was decidedly promising. We got in an officer of the 1st Life 
Guards, two of the Scots Guards, some Indian officers, two artists 
attached to the illustrated papers, and myself. Taking advan- 
tage of the method of transit we had laden ourselves overmuch, 
perhaps, with small impedimenta, for bundles of sardine boxes 
peeped from beneath the seats, while loose wine bottles rattled 
in the nettings. It was dusty and over-warm of course it must 
be that, and the flies were most annoying. 

" Away across the desert past Nefiche, whilom a stronghold 
of Arabi's, shortly to be the base of operations for the Indian 
contingent away towards Mahuta. Certainly we were proceed- 
ing very slowly, with too many stoppages, each one longer than 
the last. Presently an officer of the Grenadiers put his head in 
at the window. ' I say, you fellows. Do you want to be left 
behind ? ' General consternation. ' What ! ' ' This ramshackle 
old engine can't drag so heavy a train. They've unshipped all 
but the first two trucks ; the rest will be picked up some other 


time.' What a scurry ! How we tumbled out ! What a wild 
grabbing there was for bottles, bags, boxes ! Meanwhile the 
officer in charge caracoled up and down. * Never mind waiting 
for these people ; steam ahead ! ' At this barbarous order there 
was a wild shriek and general stampede boxes, bottles were 
abandoned to their fate, flung anywhere, and we crawled up the 
fronts of the two tall trucks with a desperate energy begotten of 

" Off we started again ; more stoppages, with longer and 
longer intervals of inaction. The only moving thing at last was 
the officer in charge, who became rabid and foamed at the 
mouth. The water from the tanks had been allowed to dribble 
away and waste ; there was no fuel, and engines without water 
or fuel are of no more use for motive purposes than a dressing- 
table or a hip-bath. Here we were, eight or nine miles out in 
the desert, and here we were likely to stop. It was presently 
discovered that, hidden in one of the trucks, was a little water in 
a barrel ; and hard by was a little wood, which, if husbanded, 
might enable the crazy machine to drag on alone a greater 
trouvaille than those in charge deserved. So off it crawled, in 
hopes of being able to reach Mahsuma, where was a supply of 
water and coal, leaving us perched on the top of the trucks with 
the full sun of midday blazing on us, and hope vanishing in the 
distance. Hotter and hotter it grew, and more stifling ; the iron 
bands which fastened the hay bales together, on which we sat 
enthroned, became so heated that the finger could not rest 
on them. We had nothing to eat, for everything of that sort 
had been dropped. The mouth felt like a redhot nutmeg-grater, 
the tongue like wash-leather. How long was this to last ? 
Would the engine ever return, or must we, in a cooked state, 
make the best of our way to shelter afoot ? Two hours passed. 
A low whistle the engine was coming back fuel and water 
had been reached, and all was well. By-and-by we struggled 
up to Mahsuma marked by the white bell-tents of the Guards, 
otherwise a bit of desert undistinguishable from the rest and 
a little later reached the Life Guards' camp, or rather the 
Cavalry camp." 

Before the war ended a hundred miles of railway were provided 
as an accessory to the military operations in Egypt? The ships 
were to land the rails and other plant aj: Ismailia. The heavy 


description of the rails, 70 Ibs. to the yard, rendered them, it was 
said, better suited to a permanent line than a merely flying 
military tram-road ; and the sleepers, which are mostly of broad 
iron plates, hollowed beneath, were well adapted for resting on 
the sand of the desert. A railway corps was specially trained 
for laying and working the railway. It consisted of No. 8 
Company Railway Engineers, among whom were platelayers, 
engine-drivers, and mechanics capable of building a bridge or 
a pier. This company had previously been exercised for such 
services on a section of railway at Upnor Castle, on the 

We may here remark that some railways, though used by the 
public, are in a special sense private property. A line, for 
instance, that connects the seaside village of Felixstowe with the 
Great Eastern system is the property of a single owner Colonel 
Tomline, formerly M.P. for Grimsby, who has not only con- 
structed it at his sole cost, but for some time worked it himself. 
It is now worked by the Great Eastern. It is 14^ miles long, 
and joins the Great Eastern at Westerfield, about ten minutes' 
run beyond Ipswich. It was completed within twenty months 
of its commencement. Colonel Tomline, it is said, spent a 
quarter of a million sterling on the undertaking. The Maenclo- 
chog Railway, in the heart of North Pembrokeshire, and termi- 
nating at his slate quarries a few miles from Fishguard, is the 
freehold property of Mr. E. Cropper, and is worked by his ser- 
vants, his engines, and his rolling stock for both passenger and 
goods purposes. But while " Colonel Tomline's efforts led him 
through 14! miles of dry and easily worked soil to his goal, 
those of Mr. Cropper were met by deep rock cuttings and valleys, 
mountain and moorland, river and forest, in the course of nine 
miles of railway, forming a variety of difficulties and of scenery 
in such a short distance " said to be " almost unparalleled." 
The railway from Sunderland to Seaham Harbour is the private 
property of the Londonderry family. 

There are other travellers by passenger trains besides men, 
women, and children ; namely, horses, dogs, cattle, sheep, and 
pigs. Cattle, sheep, and pigs, however, usually have the honour 
of trains to themselves. The Government returns do not now 
specify the numbers of the animals thus conveyed ; but so long 
ago as 1864 it was calculated that if the live stock that then 


became passengers were marshalled in a procession ten abreast 
and ten feet apart, the line of horses would extend for 6 miles ; 
the phalanx of pigs would be 44 miles in length ; there would 
be 9 miles of dogs, 60 miles of cattle, and 160 miles of sheep. In 
other words, there would be a procession of horses, pigs, dogs, 
cattle, and sheep ten abreast, extending so far that, while the 
rear ranks of the sheep were bleating in London, the front ranks 
of the horses would be neighing among the hills of Cumberland. 
We need not add that these numbers have since enormously 

The legal status of some of the articles or, more strictly, some 
of the passengers who travel by railway may sometimes be 
difficult to define. A porter, for instance, is said to have ex- 
plained to an old lady that her cats and rabbits would have to 
travel as dogs. " I have been a rector for many years," says a 
traveller, " and have often heard and read of tithe-pigs, though 
I have never met with a specimen of them. But I had once a 
little pig given to me which was of a choice breed, and only just 
able to leave his mother. I had to convey him by carriage to 
the X station ; from thence, twenty-three miles to Y station, and 
from thence, eighty-two miles to Z station, and from there, eight 
miles by carriage. I had a comfortable rabbit-hutch of a box 
made for him, with a supply of fresh cabbages for his dinner on 
the road. I started off with my wife, children, and nurse ; and 
of these impedimenta piggy proved to be the most formidable. 
First, a council of war was held over him at X station by the 
railway officials, who finally decided that this small porker must 
travel as ' two dogs.' Two dog tickets were therefore procured 
for him ; and so we journeyed on to Y station. There a second 
council of war was held, and the officials of the Y said that the 
officials of X (another line) might be prosecuted for charging 
my piggy as two dogs, but that he must travel to Z as a horse, 
and that he must have a huge horse-box entirely to himself for 
the next eighty-two miles. I declined to pay for the horse-box 
they refused to let me have my pig officials swarmed around 
me the station-master advised me to pay for the horse-box and 
probably the company would return the extra charge. I scorned 
the probability, having no faith in the company the train (it 
was a London express) was already detained ten minutes by this 
wrangle ; and finally I was whirled away bereft of my pig. I 


felt sure that he would be forwarded by the next train, but as 
that would not reach Z till a late hour in the evening, and it 
was Saturday, I had to tell my pig tale to the officials ; and not 
only so, but to go to the adjacent hotel and hire a pig-stye 
till the Monday, and fee a porter for seeing to the pig until I 
could send a cart for him on that day. Of course the pig was 
sent after me by the next train ; and as the charge for him was 
less than a halfpenny a mile, I presume he was not considered to 
be a horse. Yet this fact remains and it is worth the attention 
of the Zoological Society, if not of railway officials that this 
small porker was never recognised as a pig, but began his rail- 
way journey as two dogs, and was then changed into a horse." 

Another correspondent of a public journal mentions that at 
the high-level Crystal Palace line he had been much interested 
by the wrath of a lady against some of the porters, who had pre- 
vented her taking her dog into the carriage. " The lady argued 
that Parliament had compelled the companies to find separate 
carriages for smokers, and they ought to be further compelled to 
have a separate carriage for ladies with lap-dogs, and it was 
perfectly scandalous that they should be separated, and a valu- 
able dog, worth perhaps thirty or forty guineas, should be put 
into a dog compartment. I have some of the B stock of this 
railway, upon which not a penny has ever been paid, and I could 
not help comparing my experience of this particular line of rail- 
way with that of my fellow-traveller, and wondering what sort of 
a train that would be which would provide accommodation for 
all the wants and wishes of railway travellers." 

Occasionally animals other than domesticated are passen- 
gers by railway. We have already referred to the exploits of a 
gorilla that went to Nottingham ; we find, also, that on the loth 
of July, 1877, the station-master at Weedon, on the London 
and North Western, was informed that a tigress had not only 
travelled on the line, but, moreover, had made its escape. She 
was somewhere, he ascertained, between Wolverton and Rugby, 
and she was prowling about at large. The station master there- 
upon gathered some friends, and, with some officers from the 
Weedon garrison, went off on an engine in search. The tigress 
was discovered near the line, her movements having been 
watched from a telegraph-box by a porter who had sighted 
her. A number of country people acted as beaters, and she 


was at length despatched after receiving no less than eight rifle 
bullets, besides several charges of small shot. She belonged to 
Mr. Jamrach, of Ratcliff Highway, and had been forwarded from 
Broad Street in what is called a "low-sided junction wagon." 
While at large she had killed and partly eaten two sheep. 

It is not surprising that railways were soon brought into use 
for the removal of live stock. The cattle dealer calculates that 
for every day a beast is travelling, whether on foot or by train 
it loses a stone of eight pounds ; not to speak of the suffering to 
which it is exposed in long journeys by road. The transference 
of stock is not, however, the easiest or pleasantest part of the 
duties of railway men, to say nothing of the occasional hazards 
to the public. " Here," says a writer, " you meet bipeds who, 
per force, fiercely frightened, are pushing onwards ; and if you 
have to run the gauntlet of this road when all is in full play, 
look not only to the safety of your corns but to that of your 
life. A charge down this incline of a hundred or two of horned 
cattle just released from durance vile, and followed closely by 
sticks and dogs, is not to be treated as you would treat a con- 
temptible enemy. But on this occasion the porcine element 
less dangerous by far prevailed. Some hundreds of pigs, 
despite an unanimous remonstrance that filled the air far and 
wide, were being trans-shipped from the railway trucks to vans 
and carts. This mode of conveyance is adopted when the time 
for getting them to market is very limited, or they have to pass 
through some of the crowded streets of the metropolis. Even 
in an open country road Master Pig is a troublesome customer ; 
but in the midst of London street traffic he gets stark mad, 
and runs everywhere but in the direction he ought." It often 
happens, too, both on arrivals and departures, that different lots 
of cattle, sheep, and pigs get mixed together ; but this appa- 
rently alarming difficulty is got over by the men, who, by long 
experience, are familiar with the marks of various breeders and 
the names of salesmen to whom the stock is consigned. 

The scenes presented at the "great cattle market of the 
world " shortly before Christmas are more striking than pleasant. 
The curiosity of a visitor led him to witness the spectacle. At 
one point, when his topographical knowledge was at fault, he was 
told : " Go on a bit and you'll hear 'em ; " and, he adtis, " I did 
4 hear 'em,' the barking of innumerable dogs, and the hoarse 


shoutings of men standing out as a duet to a roaring obbligato 
accompaniment from the throats of some thousand cattle. The 
snorting of a locomotive a little off the road to my right told me 
that the landing-place was close by, and turning through a gate 
and wading knee-deep in mud, in the direction of the sound, I 
soon found myself in the midst of a scene I shall not easily for- 
get. A train, stretching far into the night, apparently intermin- 
able, and laden with sheep and beasts, was drawn up alongside 
a narrow platform, on the near side of which were I should not 
like to say how many * pens ' for their reception. The doors of 
most of the trucks being opened, a couple of drovers made their 
way into each, and then apparently went mad, with a view of 
inducing the frightened beasts to vacate the trucks for the pens, 
which they in some cases obstinately refused to do until urged 
by means more effective than gentle. At length the train is 
cleared, and I inquire when the next will arrive. 

" ' You'd better ask at the office,' I'm told. 

" The office, I find, is what I had taken to be a stable. I push 
open a door, and discover a couple of drover boys in fierce com- 
bat re the ownership of a stick, with which a third boy bolts as 
I pass in. After a little trouble I am directed by one of the 
fiery youths to an inner chamber the office an apartment some 
nine feet square, in which sundry drovers are baking before a 
huge fire, and the atmosphere is redolent of mutton hung just 
a trifle too long. 

" ' Can you tell me when the next cattle train comes in ? ' I 
ask of a muffled man who writes by a lantern at a small table. 

" ' About three ; where do you expect 'em from ? ' replies the 
muffled man without looking up. 

" I explain with difficulty that I don't expect anything ; and, 
though politely invited to sit down, I am convinced the company 
think me a little gone in the upper storey for being out at such 
an hour without any business ; besides, the cooking drovers are 
beginning to brown ; so I excuse myself, and promise to look 
in later on. Once outside, I attached myself to another drover, 
who seemed very preoccupied and disinclined to fraternize ; 
however, some tobacco made him somewhat more sociable, and 
he informed me he was going to take some sheep to the ' rails,' 
and if I wanted to see the market place I had better come along. 
We went back again to the railway pens, and my friend, with 


some more dreadful persons, proceeded to eject a lot of sheep 
into the lane. Out they scampered, as if glad of any place that 
had not four sides. 

" ' Ninety-eight/ said one of the dreadful ones. 

" ' Right,' said my drover, consulting a ticket. 

" ' How did you know that ? ' I asked of the dreadful one. 

" ' Counted 'em,' said he. 

" I am sure I looked as if I thought he was lying, for the 
sheep had rushed out in wild confusion apparently in a heap. 
I found out afterwards that the thing was possible enough to 
these men from constant practice, but I had no opportunity of 
apologising. In a few minutes we were on our way that is to 
say, the sheep, the drover, his man, his dog, and myself. As 
we neared one of the great entrances to the market, symptoms 
of insanity developed in my three companions, who rushed in 
amongst the sheep, and I saw them no more. Within the mar- 
ket is ' confusion worse confounded/ for they are driving the 
beasts in from the lairs in which they have been deposited since 
their arrival during the two past days. Some of them are as 
wild as the traditional ' March hare,' and come tearing and 
bellowing down the alleys followed by frantic drovers' men 
yelling their war-whoop of ' Turn 'em back.' It is pitch dark, 
and the long-horned brutes are on you before you can see them. 
I would not have it known how many times I scrambled over 
railings barely in time to save the tails of my coat from dis- 

Besides the multitudes of live stock brought by railway for 
the feeding of the great towns, there are also innumerable trucks 
and trains of dead meat. Not long ago the London Scotsman 
referred to this subject as seen from its northern, or departure, 
end. It appears that the north of Scotland is tapped by two 
railway systems which converge at Perth. Aberdeenshire and 
Banffshire are served by the ramifications of the Great North of 
Scotland, which meets the Caledonian at Aberdeen. -Inverness 
and Moray shires, and the counties still farther north, use the 
Highland Railway, which, striking inland at Forres, cuts off the 
angle involved in the Aberdeen route. "From almost every 
station on these two railways fresh meat is habitually forwarded. 
Huntly sends eight tons per day along the Great North, from 
the juicy pastures of the * Aucht an' forty daugh/ and the bieldy 


slopes of the Foudlands. Inverurie does a large trade also. The 
pretty town at the junction of the Don and the Urie averages 
twelve tons daily, forwarded by four dealers. Then we take a 
slant along the Buchan and Formartine line, and find Peterhead, 
which is besides given largely to the herring and whale fishery, 
with this other iron in the fire besides. The rich meadow-land 
of Buchan makes glorious beef. At one time Buchan had a 
breed of cattle of its own known among our grandfathers by 
the name of ' Buchan humblies ' ; long, low, brindled or black 
polls, with a fine capacity for taking on beef, but with a greater 
celebrity still as noble milkers. But the * humblies' took a 
long time to grow, and were apt to get ' set ' and stunted during 
stirkhood, besides which, when they had attained their full size, 
that was by no means gigantic. So they have been almost 
without exception supplanted by the bigger Aberdeenshires, the 
kindlier shorthorns, and the great-framed, fast-growing crosses, 
although even now a trace of the ' humblie ' still lingers in 
many a herd." Peterhead sends away an average of twenty 
tons per day. Minor " roadside " stations contribute over sixty 
tons per day. Aberdeen, besides sending southward a large 
number of very large-headed and preternaturally " canny " men, 
sends likewise an immense quantity of meat to feed them and 

A carcase destined for the London market is divided into 
halves ; each half is sewn up in canvas, and packed into 
wagons, the backbone downmost and'the shanks up, as closely 
as possible. A row well packed generally fills a wagon, and 
weighs from four to six tons. 

The Great North of Scotland goods train, which leaves Keith 
early in the morning, conveys into Aberdeen the dead meat 
wagons from the stations on the main line. Another, which 
leaves Peterhead, brings up the dead meat from the Buchan 
district. " These two trains, during the winter months, bring 
to Aberdeen on an average twenty-five wagons daily of dead 
meat. On arrival in Aberdeen the wagons and their contents 
are turned over to the Caledonian Railway, and by it they are 
despatched at twelve noon by the express train containing 
London goods only. This train, which requires two engines, 
contains on an average thirty-five to forty wagons laden with 
dead meat. On reaching Perth, the meat from the Inverness 


district, brought down by the Highland Railway, is in waiting." 
At Perth the express is split into two trains : one taking the 
east coast route and picking up meat all along it, the other 
taking the west coast line and receiving contributions as it 
rattles southward to Carlisle. 

The cargoes of these various trains, in which the commissariat 
of the metropolis is so deeply concerned, have to be treated on 
their arrival in the most expeditious manner. " The most im- 
portant are the two express meat trains from Scotland trains 
which may be said to have revolutionised the cattle trade of the 
Highlands. The first arrival is the daily meat express from 
Inverness and Aberdeen, and all Scotland north of the Tay, 
consisting of about forty-four wagons filled entirely with fresh 
beef and mutton. It performs the journey in about thirty hours, 
and arrives punctually at Camden at 11.5 p.m. The second 
Scotch meat express consists of fifty-five wagons, drawn by two 
powerful engines. As far south as Rugby it is principally filled 
with fresh butcher's meat from the west of Scotland, and arrives 
at Camden at 2.40 a.m. These valuable freights are despatched 
with all celerity to Newgate and Leadenhall Markets, from 
whence they are distributed by noon all over London ; so that 
the bullock that was grazing under the shadow of Ben Wyvis, 
may within forty-eight hours be figuring as the principal piece 
de resistance at a West-end dinner. 

" There are numerous other food trains which come in from the 
midland counties. The Aylesbury meat, butter, and milk train, 
averaging about twenty wagons, arrives nightly at 1.20 a.m. ; 
the Bletchley train, similarly freighted, averaging twenty-five 
wagons, arrives at 1.55 a.m.; and the Northampton and Peter- 
borough train, also averaging twenty-five wagons, at 3.5 a.m. 
About half an hour later a train comes in from Chester, prin- 
cipally freighted with cheese. And thus the arrivals continue 
all the night through, and the food is rapidly forwarded by the 
carts and vans which are in waiting to the meat markets, pro- 
vision shops, and milk and butter dealers in all parts of London. 
. . . The fish trains are of a more irregular character, the 
arrivals depending upon the season and the takes of fish at 
different parts of the coast. When the mackerel fishing is at 
its height, special trains come in laden with the fislj at the rate 
of ninety tons a day for a month. Then, when the herring 


season sets in, from ten to twelve wagons a day arrive with 
herrings from points as remote as Banff, Peterhead, and the 
north-east coast of Scotland ; about a similar quantity coming 
in from the east of Scotland and the north of Ireland. The 
station is a busy scene on the arrival of these fish trains." 

The fish traffic at many country stations is very large. " At 
Nottingham," remarked an official, "it is almost the largest we 
have for money. It arrives by the mail due very early in the 
morning. This train brings fish from the east coast from 
Hull, Berwick, and the whole of Scotland. Hull and Grimsby 
also send a train here by ' M. S. & L./ leaving Grimsby at five, 
and arriving at 10.30. Here it shunts off the trucks that are 
for Nottingham, and for the Erewash Valley and Mansfield 
lines ; it then goes forward to Bristol. Yes, it supplies Bristol 
with fish. The other night it came in with forty-eight wagons 
and two engines, and was late because the catch had been so 
large that they could not get it all loaded at the usual time. 
Grimsby is our best fishing port for winter and summer in Eng- 
land, I should think. The London market depends on Grimsby 
for its crimped cod, much of which comes through Nottingham. 

" The fish we get at Nottingham," he continued, " are of all 
sorts sometimes very large. We had a fish last week that 
weighed nearly two hundredweight, and another of more than 
twenty-one stones, at fourteen pounds a stone. It was halibut." 
It seems strange, but it is true, that much of the fish that travels 
by land goes in water. They are in tanks, holding perhaps 
half a ton of salt water each, and half a ton of live cod. The 
tank is lifted by a crane on to the railway truck ; and when it 
reaches its destination at St. Pancras, a horse truck is ready; 
and directly the train arrives, the tank is put on the truck and 
is taken away to Billingsgate. The empty fish tanks will be 
returned in the carriages that have taken them up, perhaps by 
the first down passenger train. 

The receipts at a country town station on account of the fish 
trade are often large. The fried fish men buy a " kit," or barrel, 
of fresh fish of the merchant, and fry it ; and having sold it, 
perhaps in pennyworths at a time, pay for it in halfpence ; so 
that when the wholesale dealer settles his railway charges, he 
will perhaps do so with 15 worth of fishy, green-moulded 
coppers as much in weight as a man can comfortably carry. 


It is, however, at the railway stations on the seaboard itself, 
in the fishing season, that this business is seen in its magnitude. 
Then the exportation of herrings to the London market from 
Peterhead, during the season, amounts to perhaps 80 tons a 
week, some of the large English towns on the road intercept- 
ing a portion. Fraserburgh, last season, says a local authority, 
forwarded about 80 tons to London; Banff sent 120 tons; 
Lossiemouth also a considerable quantity. There is a consider- 
able export Londonward of cured herrings also about 500 
tons ; but some of these go by steamer. There is a saying 
that the town of Amsterdam is built on old fish bones, and 
the fish whose bones are here referred to were not so much 
caught off the coast of Holland as off the east coast of Scot- 
land, and as far south as Yarmouth on the coast of England. 
"Fresh fish is now recognised as an important part of the 
food of people in the populous midland counties of England ; 
and as it is of recognised importance that the fish should go 
into these markets in a fresh condition, there is every reason 
to suppose that the traffic will considerably be increased. I 
don't say but the traffic must be carried on under somewhat 
onerous conditions, at a fast speed and low rates, but as the 
necessity of accommodating the needs of those large English 
districts will be seen here in the north, the traffic is one which 
we may fairly expect continuously to increase." 

The milk traffic by railway during the last few years has de* 
veloped enormously. As the rate is only a halfpenny a gallon 
for short distances, and a penny for long ones, farmers find that 
it pays to send their milk even to distant cities. The rich 
meadow lands, for instance, near Derby, on the Wirksworth, 
Duffield, Ripley, and Castle Donington lines, forward their 
milk to Derby by the earliest morning and the afternoon local 
trains ; and, by six o'clock in the evening, the middle platform 
at Derby will sometimes be crowded up with cans ready to 
leave for London by the mail. The morning passenger train 
from Derby, soon after eight o'clock, generally takes eight or 
ten vans of milk, each containing more than 40 " churns," each 
churn holding 15 or 16 gallons. 

Again, at Nottingham the milk arrives between seven and 
eight in the morning, and between five and six in the evening. 
Perhaps five and twenty milk dealers send their carts to meet 

E E 


these trains. The churns in which it comes are made very 
strong, of block tin iron-bound ; when empty they weigh about 
two stones, when full about 16 stones, or two hundredweight. 
" Yes, there are large dealers as well as small. One of them 
has 350 men in 30 different towns, stretching from South Shields 
to London, who sell his milk retail. He has 160 men in London 
alone. In order to obtain the required quantity of milk he 
makes yearly contracts with large dairies. These men sell 
15,000 gallons of milk in London every day, all of which, oi 
course, goes by rail. But the milk brought to Nottingham by 
rail is consumed here. This trade has all been made in the 
last ten years. The milk brought is excellent far superior to 
what it used to be. If you go into our refreshment room, and 
look at a glass of milk that has been standing there for two or 
three hours, you will find the cream thick on the top." 

We have elsewhere told of the working of the inward and the 
outward departments of a great London goods terminus St. 
Pancras ; we may therefore content ourselves with a description, 
written some years ago, of a similar scene at Camden station. 
" The working of a London railway station is one of the busiest 
night sights of London, for all the outward merchandise traffic 
is loaded and despatched to the country at night, and nearly all 
the inwards traffic arrives from the country in the early morning 
for delivery to the consignees before the usual hours of business 
begin. Fancy fifteen hundred men nightly occupied in loading 
and unloading goods in the goods sheds of a single company ; 
vans arriving from all parts of the metropolis, beginning at 6.30 
p.m. and ending at 9.30 ; a little army of men struggling with 
the bulky packages, which they deposit on their respective 
platforms, from whence they are loaded into the railway wagons 
placed alongside, and despatched at once, train by train, to the 
remotest parts of the kingdom. The scene appears at first 
one of inextricable confusion men battling with bales, barrels, 
crates, and hampers, amidst the noise of voices and clangour of 
machinery. Yet the whole is proceeding with regularity and 
despatch, and in the course of a few hours the last train out- 
wards has left, and the station is wrapped in quiet until the time 
of the early morning arrivals. 

"The Camden station occupies about fourteen acres, and is 
provided with nearly twenty miles of sidings, mostly converging 



on the great shed itself, as large as a West-end square, being 
400 feet long by 250 round. This shed is fitted up throughout 
with stages and platforms, between which the wagons are 
ranged, into which the goods are loaded, and every contrivance 
is adopted which mechanical skill can suggest for facilitating the 
despatch of business. As the vans come in, the packages are 
hoisted out of them by hydraulic cranes, and wheeled direct to 
their respective stages, the names of the places of destination 
Liverpool, Glasgow, Manchester, etc. being conspicuously indi- 
cated alongside the wagons about to be loaded with the goods 


for those places, where they are trucked at once, and packed, 
corded, and tarpaulined. The wagons, when complete, are then 
cleverly drawn out of the platform sidings by ropes worked 
round hydraulic capstans, when they are marshalled on their 
respective sidings, and despatched train by train, almost with the 
regularity of clockwork. The number of wagons loaded and 
despatched from the Camden station nightly is about 670, in 27 
trains, averaging about 25 wagons per train. Although there 
are about 10,000 packages despatched nightly, averaging from 
90 to 100 Ibs. per package, the quickness with which ^he work is 
got through is such that scarcely two hours elapse between the 


arrival of the goods in the station and their departure by railway 
to their respective destinations. 

"After midnight the goods trains begin to come in from the 
country. Now the bustle is in unloading and despatching by 
van to the London customers the articles which have come to 
hand. The same number of trains, carrying about an equal 
number of packages, have now to be disposed of. After 3 a.m. 
the station is again in full work, and the press of vans and carts 
is as great as on the previous evening, until about 6 a.m., when 
the business of the night is nearly got through, and the station 
again reposes in comparative quiet." * 

The amount of railway business involved in the supply of the 
needs of a population of 4,000,000 may be understood when, for 
instance, in giving evidence before a Parliamentary Committee 
on behalf of a mid-London railway, Mr. Samuel Morley, M.P., 
said that " at his place of business in Wood Street, there were 
usually about 3,000 bales or packages of goods in and out every 
day." And the expedition with which such work is transacted 
may be shown by the fact that the goods entrusted to railway 
companies at 7 o'clock in the evening, at distances of even 
200 miles from London, are delivered next morning at the doors 
of the consignees in the city, and many kinds of goods arrive 
even by 9 o'clock. But it is not surprising that Mr. Morley 
added that " the congestion of the traffic from the narrowness 
of the streets in that locality, and the want of an outlet, put the 
occupiers of warehouses to the greatest inconvenience." 

Goods traffic, in one important respect, is inferior to that for 
passengers. " Nothing," said Mr. Robert Stephenson,f " is so 
profitable, because nothing is so cheaply transported, as pas- 
senger traffic. Goods traffic, of whatsoever description, must 
be more or less costly. Every article conveyed by railway re- 
quires handling and conveyance beyond the limit of the railway 
station ; but passengers take care of themselves, and find their 
own way without cost from the terminus at which they are set 
down. It is true, passengers require carriages of somewhat more 
expensive construction than those prepared for goods ; but this 
expense is compensated for by the circumstance that they are 

* " The Great Railway Monopoly." 

f Address to the Institution of Civil Engineers. 


capable of running, and do run, a much greater number of miles 
that the weight of passengers is small in proportion to the 
weight of goods and that consequently the cost for locomotive 
power is less." Still the carrying of goods and of mineral traffic 
is, on some lines, the principal source of profit. 

In the conduct of the mineral traffic there is an important 
difference of administration among railway boards. On the 
North Eastern and Great Northern lines, coal is carried in 
wagons most of which belong to the companies; hence the 
uniformity of build and appearance which they present. On the 
other hand, the London and North Western, and the Midland, 
have been accustomed to allow coal-owners or merchants to 
provide their own wagons for their own traffic; hence their 
endless diversity of shape and size. This system has some 
advantages. The proprietors feel that they have more control 
over their own property, and that if they have not wagons 
enough to do their business, or if they have too many, it is their 
own affair ; and these opinions have been so strongly held that 
owners have till lately objected to accede to any other arrange- 
ment, except under compulsion. 

But serious objections have long been urged against the private 
ownership of railway rolling stock. According to this plan, it is 
necessary that every empty truck shall be returned empty to its 
owner ; and one man's truck cannot be left at another man's 
colliery ; whereas if all the trucks belonged to one Company, it 
would be enough to leave the required number the first that 
could be most conveniently obtained for the use of the particu- 
lar trader. He wants, perhaps, twenty trucks ; and, according 
to existing methods, his twenty must be found for him and 
brought back to him, though one may have gone to Brighton, 
two to Exeter, four to Carlisle, and the rest to King's Lynn ; 
whereas by the proposed arrangement all that would be neces- 
sary in his case would be to deliver to him the first twenty that 
could be got hold of. Depots could be formed every here and 
there for the collection and distribution of wagons, and the work 
would be easy ; whereas now enormous shunting sidings are 
required, and an engine may be a whole day picking out the 
wagons for a particular owner. 

Frequently, too, it happens that, while certain oollieries are 
busy, others are comparatively idle ; the former are in want of 


trucks with which to carry their coals, and the latter have empty 
trucks standing useless in their sidings. In fact, there is scarcely 
a colliery on the Midland system that has siding accommodation 
for all its own wagons ; and the consequence is, that if, from 
want of trade, or defects in the mine, or a strike among the men, 
the colliery is thrown out of work, the company has to find room 
on its own sidings for the empties. It is believed that such is 
the increase of economy that would be secured, that three-fourths 
of the present number of trucks, and three-fourths of the present 
number of sidings, would be sufficient if the trucks belonged to 
the companies. 

Another, and perhaps the most important, result of a change 
of system would be the increased safety of the traffic. If trains 
are delayed or accidents occur on, for instance, the Midland 
Railway, the common, if not almost invariable, explanation is 
that some mineral truck has broken down, or has run off the 
rails, and further inquiry into the subject would reveal the 
surprising fact, that out of a hundred breakdowns of goods or 
minerals wagons, ninety-four per cent, are with the wagons of 
private owners ; that is to say, that if the wagons of private 
owners were made as strong and as safe as the wagons of the 
railway company, the number of breakdowns would be reduced 
to about one-tenth of what they are. Now, the breakdown of a 
mineral truck not only certainly involves delay delay which 
may derange the entire traffic of the line for hours, or even days 
but it may be one of the most perilous forms of accident. 

These and other considerations have led the Board of the 
Midland Railway Company to arrange for the purchase of the 
mineral wagons of private owners, and this is now being 
carried forward on a large scale. 

One arrangement of the railway companies with regard to 
their coal traffic has been freely criticised : it is their practice of 
allowing the use of their coal depots to only a limited number of 
coal agents. "Why," it has been asked, "cannot any person have 
a truck of coals consigned to him at the station, and be allowed 
to fetch it away ? " This problem was, some years since, prac- 
tically tested at Nottingham. There had been there only a 
small coal wharf, and inconvenience had arisen. To remedy it 
the company bought from fifteen to twenty acres of land for 
coaling purposes. At once they received innumerable applica- 



tions from all sorts of persons for coaling space, and the yard 
became so crowded and confused that it would have been 
impossible to carry on business. " We were receiving," said Mr. 
Allport before the Royal Commission, "constant complaints from 
the consumers, the traders, and the coal-owners ; and I went my- 
self to Nottingham, and spent nearly a day there, for the purpose 
of investigating them ; and I found that although we had appro- 
priated so large a space to the coal traffic, the whole yard was 
so crowded that it was impossible to get rid of the trucks. I 
found upwards of 500 trucks of coal standing in the Nottingham 
yard, and it was quite impossible for any of the parties to get 
at them. I then ascertained that great numbers of them were 
small dealers, receiving a single truck, and that others were 
private consumers, receiving perhaps a truck." 

To remedy these evils, it was arranged that only a limited 
number of the largest merchants should be admitted to the 
ground, and that each should be 'allowed to stack a certain 
number of hundreds of tons of coals. If the land had been 
large enough for a dozen such merchants, a dozen would have 
been selected ; but it was not so, and nine dealers were ad- 
mitted. The largest were accepted, and they are charged a 
11 terminal " at Nottingham of twopence a ton. The results of 
this arrangement have been satisfactory. Similar methods have 
been adopted in every large town on the Midland system, and 
Mr. Allport subsequently gave evidence " There is not a single 
coal-owner now complaining." 



Working of Trains. "Correspondence" of Trains. Punctuality of Trains. 
Mr. S. Laing. Sir D. Gooch. Mr. Allport. Mr. Paterfamilias and 
his Opinions. Snow-storms on Railways. A Young Lady's Experi- 
ence. Other Trains Snowed up. Snow-storm in Scotland. Results of 
Weather on Railway Finance. Cost of a Snow-storm to a Railway. 
Snow Sheds. Railway Accidents. A Paradox : is it true ? Safety of 
Railway Travelling. Curative Effects of Railway Accidents. Horse- 
racing on Railways. Brake Trials at Newark. The Trial Trains. 
The Westinghouse Brake. " Mr. Vacuus Smith." Mr. Clayton's 
Brake. A Ride on an Engine w4th a Vacuum Brake. Earl de la 
Warr's Bill. Communicators. The Cord System. Results. Running 
Powers of Railways. "Facility Clauses." Interchange of Traffic on 
Metropolitan Lines. Lines jointly Owned or Worked. " Compen- 
sation." Curious Cases. Taxation of Railways. The Railway Com- 
mission. Alleged Excessive Railway Rates. Reply of Companies. 
Classification oi Rates. Special Rates. Reasons for Special Rates. 
Uniform Mileage Rates Impracticable and Pernicious. 

HE working of railway trains now deserves our 
careful attention. To run a train at all involves 
a good deal. It means coal, oil, tallow, cotton 
waste, wages, wear and tear of engines, car- 
riages, rails, sleepers, ballast, bridges, embank- 
ments, cuttings, stations, and all the other 
belongings of railways, not under cover, but in 
the open air, exposed to the sundry and mani- 
fold changes of the weather for which our 
climate is noted. But there is not merely one 
train, or one class of trains, but many trains 
and many classes. On the same lines of 
railway run express and mail passenger trains, at a rate of 
perhaps 45 miles an hour; others at 35 miles an hour; and 
stopping trains, calling at all stations, at 25 or 30 miles an hour. 
There are also express goods trains, slow or stopping goods, 

The initial letter represents a fogman's hut. 


shunting or ballast trains, followed by or mixed with through 
heavy coal trains from the great coal-fields of the country, on 
their way to the large centres of population ; yet one and all 
have to be run with order, regularity, and punctuality. 

When a railway company has successfully completed the 
arrangements on its own system, and is prepared fully to carry 
them out, it is reminded that it "does not live unto itself/' 
Provision has to be made for the " correspondence " of some of 
its trains with those of other great companies with which it is 
in constant practical alliance and action. A passenger who has 
come from Peterborough by Melton and Syston to Leicester, 
complains that his train is late ; he perhaps forgets that it was 
in connection with a train from Yarmouth off the Great Eastern, 
and that it arrived twenty minutes late at Peterborough. 
Similarly a passenger from Bristol for Manchester may be 
detained in starting, because his train is waiting for a Great 
Western that has not arrived from Torquay or Penzance. Per- 
fect punctuality is, of course, theoretically desirable ; and it could 
be guaranteed. All that would be necessary would be to alter 
the time-bills of the railway companies, so as to allow an 
ample margin for all contingencies. But when, on the other 
hand, we should have in all ordinary journeys to wait at the 
stations for " time," or to loiter out on the road the time that 
occasionally was required for dealing with exceptionally heavy 
traffic, it would be allowed that the remedy was worse than the 
disease. "Personally," said Mr. S. Laing, in a letter to the 
President of the Board of Trade, " as a director, I should have 
no objection to see my responsibility sheltered by the decree 
of a public authority, extending the time of the express trains 
between London and Brighton from one hour and a quarter to 
one hour and a half, of the stopping trains from two hours to 
two hours and a half, and all other trains in proportion and 
less than this would not answer the object. But as a share- 
holder, I should deprecate it, because I believe it would so in- 
convenience the public that it would drive away a large amount 
of traffic. As a resident in Brighton I should deprecate it, 
because the prosperity of Brighton depends mainly on its being 
within 50 miles of London, while such a decree would practically 
increase the distance to 60 or 70 miles ; and lastly, ^s an indi- 
vidual traveller on the railway, I should Deprecate it, because I 


would prefer to travel, as at present, in a time so short that I 
do not feel it to be irksome, taking my chance of now and then 
being a little behind time, rather than see an unnecessary 
quarter of an hour added daily to my journey under the plea of 
consulting my safety and convenience." The immense majority 
of travellers would take the same view, and if two railways were 
running side by side at the same hours and fares, one at 40 
miles an hour, the other at 30, with any of the advantages of 
greater safety and punctuality which the slower speed would 
give, the great majority of passengers would patronize the faster 

Nor is it only at a single point or two that one company is 
in correspondence with another. At Bristol, said Mr. Allport 
in evidence before the Royal Commission, our trains are 
placed in connection with the trains from the extreme west 
from Cornwall and Devonshire. At Gloucester the Midland 
comes into connection with the South Wales system, stretching 
from Milford Haven, Swansea, Cardiff, and Monmouthshire. 
At Worcester there are lines approaching from another part of 
the system of the Great Western, and from Hereford and South 
Wales. At Birmingham the Midland system comes in contact 
with the main artery of the London and North Western system ; 
and at Burton they are flanked by the North Staffordshire 
Company. At Eckington they are in connection with the 
Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Company ; at Norman- 
ton with the North Eastern system ; and at Oakenshaw with 
the Lancashire and Yorkshire line. It is easy to see how 
impossible it is "to fit a train running from south to north 
with all these various branch connections, the main line having 
far more important sources of traffic to accommodate than the 
few passengers who may be brought in by the branch lines of 
other companies. The principle to be recognised is the accom- 
modation of the greatest number, and this can be accomplished 
only by the apparent occasional neglect of the few. To attempt 
to run trains so as to suit all the branches would throw the 
whole system out of gear would be impossible." 

The uniformity of railway arrangements is constantly being 
interfered with by the varying conditions of traffic, of weather, 
and of season. The excursion and summer traffic to the sea- 
side, to Ireland and Scotland, and the cross Channel service to 


the Continent, and the consequent complications at junctions, 
make absolute regularity impossible. 

As the British Paterfamilias sits after breakfast, some winter 
morning, by his warm fireside, toasting his toes and reading his 
paper, his eye rests upon a paragraph which gently stirs the 
choleric within his protuberant breast. It is, perhaps, to the 
following effect : " Snow-storm in Hampshire. Up mail detained 

several hours." " Bad management again," remarks Mr. P ; 

and he is evidently under the impression that that part of the 
railway system would have been far better administered if his 
had been the presiding mind. Fortunately, however, for Mr. 

P , he was safe and warm in bed during the vicissitudes of 

that night. For what was happening ? 

A dense sky had been hanging over these grey snow-clad 
Hampshire hills, and then those hills disappeared under the whirl- 
ing dance of snow-flakes. " Where usually is a varied landscape 
of meadow, river, trees, and hedges, is now one unbroken line of 
white, with an occasional dark object peering through to mark 
the spot where usually is a fence or a tree. Away it stretches 
till we reach a dark fir plantation, and then again we are lost 
amid the snow-clad range of the Purbeck Hills. Now and then 
drift across the grey expanse small flocks of larks, with their 
heads turned westward, their slow dreary flight adding a melan- 
choly touch of life to the lifeless scene. The lines were just 
visible under the snow, which was piled high in the centre of the 
railway, and crowds of men were employed in sweeping it away ; 
while the wind rendered their task almost endless by blowing it 
back again almost quicker than they could brush it away, a fine 
white powder being drifted in a ceaseless shower across every- 
thing from the masses on the roads, where the dense white stuff 
lay wholly between the hedges, level with the tops." When dug 
out it came out in square blocks like sugar, or still more like 
starch, for it had the peculiar blue tint that this latter commo- 
dity possesses, and none of the brilliant sparkle of a lump of 

The guard of a goods train thus narrated his experiences that 
night. " I daresay," he said, " it was much the same on all the 
lines. I can only speak for myself, and I know that I never was 
out in such a storm in all the winters that I've been gilard on the 
London and South Western. Bad enough, we had it, in all con- 


science, coming up from Salisbury in the dark right against that 
east wind, driving and howling incessantly, and the snow enough 
to blind you if you'd only turned your face straight towards it 
for a moment ; but the truth is you couldn't do it. Yes, I will 
tell you about it if you think it worth hearing, at least in my 

"I went down from Waterloo in the morning to bring up 
a train coming from Exeter on from Salisbury to London. It 
was blowing wild enough when we started, and the snow whirl- 
ing round and round us not in big flakes, like you see it fall 
when in still weather, but in a sharp fine dust, just like glass 
ground down into powder. Long before we got to our down 
journey's end the snow had begun to gather deep in the cuttings, 
the wind sweeping it down from the open country above, and 
laying it in a sloping bank, running down far across the rails. 
It is a